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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (U)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/03/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Hugely entertaining, pleasingly old-fashioned family fantasy with lively direction, an emotionally engaging script and strong performances from the entire cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Susanna White, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is the sequel to the 2005 hit and is set in the English countryside during the Second World War. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as farmer's wife Mrs Green, whose husband (Ewan McGregor) is away fighting the war and whose children – pre-teens Norman (Asa Butterfield) and Megsie (Lil Woods) and six-year-old Vincent (Oscar Steer) – are desperately trying to help her hang onto the farm, despite the fact that her ne'er-do-well brother-in-law Phil (Rhys Ifans) keeps trying to persuade her to sell it so he can pay off his gambling debts.

However, when Mrs Green's posh niece Celia (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) and nephew Cyril (Eros Vlahos) are sent to the farm for an unlimited stay and immediately start fighting with the children, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) mysteriously appears at their door and informs Mrs Green that the children will need to learn five lessons before she leaves. Meanwhile, Phil comes under pressure from two female loan sharks (Sinead Matthews and Katy Brand) and conspires to ensure that Mrs Green will have to sell up.

The Good
Maggie Gyllenhaal is terrific as Mrs Green, delivering a note-perfect English accent and generating believable chemistry with all the children. Thompson is equally good and there's strong comic support from a brilliantly cast Rhys Ifans, while Sinead Matthews almost steals the film with her turn as female loan shark Miss Topsey.

As for the children, Megsie, Celia and Vincent are relatively underwritten, but Butterfield and Vlahos are both excellent, each nailing their required emotional scenes, particularly in a confrontation with Cecil's army father (Ralph Fiennes). In addition, the CGI effects are used well, though there's a dodgy CGI elephant that could have used a little more work.

The Great
White keeps things moving at a decent pace throughout and gets the tone exactly right, showing commendable restraint with the animal dung jokes, for one thing. The script is excellent too and it all builds to a satisfyingly emotional finale, even if the loan shark sub-plot feels a little slight.

Worth seeing?
Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is an emotionally engaging, pleasingly old-fashioned fantasy drama with a strong script and terrific performances. Highly recommended.

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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (U)
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