Oscar-winner Emma Thompson stars and winningly adapts the 'Nurse Matilda' books by Christianna Brand into a surefire family pleaser. She plays Nanny McPhee, the formidable childminder who suddenly appears at the home of six unruly brats and their feckless father (Colin Firth). Rewardingly focusing on character rather than special effects, this is a lesson in family movie-making that audiences of all ages will love to learn.
Emma Thompson plays the no-nonsense, vaguely witchy child carer hired to instill some discipline into the six Brown brats.
Their widowed undertaker father (Colin Firth) lets them run amok while the last nanny - their seventeenth - was dispatched with a cruel practical joke.
Step forward Nanny McPhee, forbidding disciplinarian replete with warts, bulbous nose and good old NHS dentistry.
Wielding a magic stick, she soon has the kids - led by Love Actually's Thomas Sangster - toeing the line.
The mysterious childminder also involves herself in Mr Brown's attempts to find a new wife and scullery maid Evangeline's secret desires.
Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay based on Christianna Brand's books, gamely harrumphs her way through the proceedings as the snaggle-toothed nanny.
Unlike Mary Poppins, this is short on action setpieces such as toy soldiers packing themselves away, but strong on the emotional ties binding the family together.
There's some terrific support - Celia Imrie as a gold-digging widow and Imelda Staunton as the family cook - and the feelgood factor will go down well with younger families.