When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.
Nanny McPhee (“small c, big P”) again comes to the aid of a family who can’t cope. This time the action is updated to during World War II. The setting is a small farm where Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is struggling to make ends meet while her husband is away fighting. Her three children are boisterous but look after the farm while she helps out in the village shop run by Mrs Docherty (Maggie Smith). Then everything is turned on its head when the rich city cousins are due to come and stay. They arrive a day early to discover a farm yard covered in poo, of all varieties, and all hell breaks loose between town and country. Enter Nanny McPhee to start sorting it out with her five lessons, telling Mrs Green that the Army sent her. Meanwhile, Isabel’s shifty brother-in-law (Rhys Ifans) is in big trouble and is trying to persuade her to sell her half of the farm…
I won’t tell you any more of the story, but if you’ve seen the first film you’ll expect some animal antics – this time involving gorgeous little piglets, a baby elephant, and a crow. There is less out and out slapstick in this film, but there are plenty of brilliant funny moments, some great cameos from Bill Bailey, Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor, plus Sam Kelly as a sort of combination of ARP Warden Hodges and Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army.
Emma Thompson wrote the script and co-produced alongside her acting duties, and she obviously loves the character. She is also not afraid to tug at your heartstrings – there were several times where I was tempted to bawl like a babe (in both sorrow and happiness). The shadow of war hangs over the film and gives it both gravitas and an excuse for some silliness; the big bang of the title referring to bombs.
My daughter and I both enjoyed it hugely; she particularly liked the animals, I liked the spivvy Ifans and put-upon Maggie G. Highly recommended for all ages – if you need a excuse to go and see it at the cinema, borrow a niece or nephew, but don’t forget a hanky!