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"Nanny McPhee" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-september-2010-nanny

Synopsis

Mr. Brown (Firth) has a nagging problem:  his seven children are very naughty and quite bent on chasing off every nanny that tries to care for them.  He’s simply overwhelmed trying to raise them by himself and hold down his job as a mortician.  When the local agency runs out of nannies, he’s not sure what to do.  Suddenly a mysterious and quite ugly woman arrives at his door – Nanny McPhee (Thompson).  She immediately sets to straightening the children out through her “Five Lessons” and a bit of magic.  Every time they learn a new lesson, she becomes a little less ugly.  Meanwhile, Mr. Brown learns he will lose his allowance from a rich Aunt (Lansbury) if he does not marry immediately.  He asks a rather horrid woman (Mrs. Quickly) to become his wife.  Just as she begins to step into the role of the wicked stepmother, the children disrupt the wedding and Mr. Brown marries the scullery maid instead.  Now that Nanny McPhee is no longer needed, her transformation is complete and she fades off into the distance.

Specifications

  • Universal Pictures
  • 2005, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 39 min
  • Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  not specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury
  • Directed by Kirk Jones
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence:  No
  • Sex:  No
  • Language:  No

Commentary

This movie is fair family entertainment but that’s about it.  The antics of the children get old pretty quickly.  I felt the three main actors were completely out of their element with such shallow material. I was surprised to learn Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay.  I would have expected better.  Nanny McPhee will probably appeal to the kids though.  There’s plenty of comical action and the children do eventually find a reason to behave and all turns out well in the end.  The whole thing reminded me of Mary Poppins minus the singing and the Dick Van Dyke character.  There’s something to enjoy for children of any age and I’m sure families will enjoy this film together.  It’s certainly worth a rental.

Technical

Color is uber-saturated with vivid and bright hues throughout.  Flesh tones are kept at a reasonably natural level.  Clothing and building interiors are decked out in the brightest and loudest colors imaginable.  Detail is razor-sharp at all times.  Contrast is extreme and I expected some crushing but saw none.  Shadow detail is preserved very well.  There were only a few dark scenes but they looked fantastic with amazing blacks and excellent detail.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see this Blu-ray as a projector and flat-panel demo at CEDIA this year.

Audio is nothing special.  Dialog is clear and blends well with other sound effects.  Surrounds are not used except for a few ambient effects.  The sound field remains firmly up front.  I only heard the sub when Nanny McPhee banged her cane on the floor with a suitably thunderous effect.  Other than that, action scenes sounded somewhat flat with little in the way of dynamics.

Extras

Bonus features include a documentary about the casting process, shorts about the elaborate makeup worn by Emma Thompson and the overall production design.  There is also a featurette covering the adaptation of the screenplay from the original books by Christianna Brand.  Finally there are 13 minutes of deleted scenes and a blooper reel.This is something I’d like to see on all TV Blu-rays, very cool!