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Blu-ray Review: Nanny McPhee

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Oh, dear God, what is this pile of rubbish? Well, according to the cover and the title sequence, it’s Nanny McPhee, starring Colin Firth and Emma Thompson. But, in my opinion, the title of this movie should be Another Crappy Family Fantasy Flick That Was Only Produced Because Of The Harry Potter Franchise.

Based on the Nurse Matilda series of book by Christianna Brand, Nanny McPhee (the names were changed to protect the innocent, no doubt) tells the story of mortician Cedric Brown (Colin Firth, the only real reason to watch this movie if you absolutely have to), a recent widower and father of seven despicable brats. After his seven deadly sins (children) manage to scare off 17 different nannies, Cedric begins to hear a disembodied voice, encouraging him to hire someone named Nanny McPhee. Desperate to get the voice out of his head if nothing else, Cedric decides to hire the mysterious and magical caretaker — after the fugly woman shows up unannounced and uninvited at his door.

Mary Poppins she ain’t — she doesn’t even sing! But she does possess magical powers, however, and she is only too happy to use them on the children in order to get them to obey their darling dad. Interestingly enough, every time the kids learn a lesson, one of McPhee’s unsightly facial aberrations (moles, bucktooth, unibrow, etc) disappears (obviously part of the contract she signed with Lucifer: make children do good via magic, become more beautiful — wait, that doesn‘t make any sense!).

Meanwhile, Cedric is forced to find a bride, else he’ll forfeit the right to receive any further allowance from his late wife’s rich aunt (played by an over-the-top performance courtesy of Angela Lansbury, sporting the worst fake nose since Streisand in The Prince Of Tides), who shows up to send one of the kids off to school for a (gasp) proper education. From there on in, it’s your typical “everybody learns a valuable life lesson” flick, completely devoid of any genuine feeling or imagination. Really, you have to wonder what the studio execs that gave this one the greenlight was smoking back then (“What? It’s like Harry Potter? Let’s do it!”).

And the fact that the film spawned a sequel (five years after the fact) makes you wonder what they’re smoking now.

But I kid Nanny McPhee. There are actually a number of valuable life lessons for the young’uns to learn by watching this film, such as…

1) Your mom will die. Just accept it now.
2) Food fights are a necessary part of bonding with your siblings.

3) Seven children is about six too many for any couple to have.
4) Your dad will develop a thing for the housekeeper…providing he hasn’t already, that is.
5) An inheritance or family allowance is the only way to live.
6) It’s always a nice day for a white wedding — as evident by the ending, wherein all of the pale British folk don in the whitest outfits imaginable and have a wedding in the snow.

Timed to coincide with the theatrical release of Nanny McPhee Returns, Universal has given the original Nanny McPhee another chance to terrorize its viewers via Blu-ray. And, while the movie itself sucks, I have to admit that Universal has done a superb job with the audio and video aspects of this one. The picture is presented in a 1080p/VC-1 transfer, with a 2.35:1 ratio. With its extremely vibrant colors and contrast (not to mention some highly textured detail throughout), Univeral’s Blu-ray of Nanny McPhee could very well be one of the most visually-impressive titles of the year.

Accompanying the movie is an equally strong DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless 5.1 soundtrack. Between all of its magical sound effects, voices, and Harry Potter-inspired music, Nanny McPhee’s soundtrack comes through admirably. Additional soundtracks are available in Japanese, French, German, and Spanish, while the 25GB disc has about fifteen subtitle tracks to choose from — making one wonder if this is a Region Free release or not. The fact that you have to select which language you want the main menu to be in when the disc boots up makes me wonder about that even more.

The Blu-ray release of Nanny McPhee also includes several special features, most of which have been carried over from the previously-released SD-DVD version. They include an audio commentary with director Kirk Jones and several of the film’s child actors (make the pain stop — please!), several featurettes, a couple of deleted scenes, and a gag reel (the latter of which would also make a good name for this film, albeit in a plural sense). Since I was not impressed by the film at all, these bonus materials held no interest for me whatsoever. The fact that they wouldn’t be all-too interesting even if I had liked the film doesn’t help.

In short, Nanny McPhee is a pretty dumb flick. I’d avoid it if at all possible, unless your kids make you pick it up and then strap you down in order to force you to watch it — in which case, you’ll just have to remember Nanny’s words of wisdom: “You’ll have to swallow it sooner or later, so I suggest you get it over with.”

But skip it if you can.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.