Accused of drowning his little sister in the bath, 10-year old Joey (William Dix) is sent away to an institution for therapy even though he claims the Nanny (Davis) is responsible. When he returns home, suspicion is quickly aroused again as his mother (Wendy Craig) is poisoned and his aunt suddenly dies. But Joey continues to insist the Nanny is responsible, turning life into a deft cat-and-mouse game between the equally shady woman and her young charge.
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The kids will love the candy-box sets and costumes like confectionery-shop windows, the whimsy and farcical grotesqueness of it all.
Any time Thompson curls that prosthetic snaggletooth over her lower lip and murmurs a nearly inaudible harrumph is a comic moment to be treasured.
In a seemingly blithe way, the movie captures an aspect of child consciousness not usually explored onscreen -- that zone between innocence and knowledge.
Nanny McPhee has its own enduring charm, a mix of witty dialogue, pie-throwing slapstick and eccentric family portrait.
This bracing adaptation of the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand is the acidic antidote to Mary Poppins sweetness.
Nanny McPhee, though it drags a bit in its middle acts, finishes with such gusto that neither you nor your kids will need a spoonful of anything to make this movie medicine go down.
Thompson's script is clever and, despite that monstrous makeup, her performance is deliciously balanced by the standards of what is, after all, a children's fable.