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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

cinematic roots of: ‘Nanny McPhee Returns’ (aka ‘Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang’)

No movie springs from a vacuum. There are always influences from past examples of the genre, from the previous work of the filmmakers and stars, even from similar films that don’t quite work. If you want to understand where a movie is coming from, take a look at where it’s coming from.

In Nanny McPhee Returns (aka Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang), Emma Thompson’s stern, scary babysitter teaches a gaggle of monstrous brats a couple of things about being civilized people. This flick sprang from (among other films):

Nanny McPhee (2005), our introduction to the character; the humor is much darker here, and will appeal to adults more than that of the brighter, sillier (but still charming) sequel.

Mary Poppins (1964), if you want some singing and dancing along with your life lessons (a few baby pigs do some synchronized swimming in Returns, but that’s the extent of the “dancing”).

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), for more kiddie magic, including Dick Van Dyke’s wacky inventions and flying car, which are echoed in Returns in one funny barnyard gadget and in McPhee’s flying motorcycle.

Sense and Sensibility (1995), for Emma Thompson in a more serious role (as Elinor Dashwood), but still one overladen with personal responsibility; she adapted the script for that (and won an Oscar for it!), just as she wrote the screenplay for Returns.
Where to buy:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Mary Poppins [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Nanny McPhee [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Sense and Sensibility [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]



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