2010 Certificate: u

Synopsis

A fresh brood of troublesome brats get the tough love treatment from Nanny McPhee in the second outing of Emma Thompson's rich creation. Things aren't good down on the farm - flustered mom Maggie Gyllenhaal is trying to hold it together for her three precocious kids. Her soldier husband is at the front and her posh niece and nephew make it plain they're not happy to be there after being evacuated from war-torn London. As the chorus of pots and pans keep saying: "You need Nanny McPhee". It's a superior kids' film, happily devoid of sentimentality and touching on real issues amid the mayhem.

Director

  • Susanna White

Cast

  • Emma Thompson

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal

  • Ralph Fiennes

  • Maggie Smith

  • Rhys Ifans

Review

Emma Thompson's warty old spinster dispensing sound advice and invisible clips round the ear was one of the pleasanter surprises in a family genre happier to pander to kids' tastes than challenge them.

The second visit of the supernaturally formidable governess pretty much sticks to the successful formula of the original with another batch of unruly whippersnappers needing the firm-but-fair approach.

Country wife Isabel Green (Gyllenhaal) is finding it hard to cope with her tumble-down farmhouse and the constant attention of her three nippers while her husband is away fighting in the war.

She's also got to put up with the arrival of her niece and nephew - a couple of hoity-toity posh kids (think a pocket Boris Johnson) - who are immediately at loggerheads with her own brood.

Thank God then for the knock on the door that heralds the arrival of Nanny McPhee, the carbuncled caregiver and doting disciplinarian who wins round her charges with a couple of thumps of her magic stick.

Director Susanna White directed Iraq War TV drama Generation Kill before switching theatres of war from the Gulf to England's green and pleasant land for this enjoyable family adventure, nicely served by Thompson's script.

Supporting characters include Bill Bailey's surreal pig farmer (thanks to Nanny McPhee his litter manages to climb trees and perform synchronised swimming) and Ralph Fiennes as a buttoned-up army officer who casts light on the fate of Isabel's missing hubby.

There are possibly too many plot strands flailing around (Rhys Ifan's grasping uncle never really goes anywhere) but it's an immensely likeable and very British comedy that makes some pertinent points about how families connect.

A loud cheer for the big bang.

Tim Evans