Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) is reeling from the loss of his wife. His six children are monsters, and make it a point to chase off each and every nanny Mr. Brown hires. The film begins as the 17th of such nannies runs screaming from the house, "The children have eaten the baby!" And you thought your kids were bad.
After the nanny agency gives up and won't send anymore nannies to the Brown household, Nanny McPhee appears like magic. Imagine a grotesque and wart-ridden Mary Poppins, and you've got Nanny McPhee. Underneath all those warts, scraggly hairs, and ferocious uni-brow is the lovely Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay). It's one of those Hollywood magic make-up jobs that make you say, "There's no way that could be her. There's just no way."
The Browns live in a beautiful house in the English countryside. As a single father of six rambunctious kids, Cedric struggles to keep food on the table while worrying about how his children are doing. The family is in financial struggle and finds that if they don't get more help from their wealthy Great Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) then they'll lose the house, and the children may be sent to the work houses.
Aunt Adelaide has agreed to help the family, but under one condition, Cedric needs to get remarried. The children hate this idea, because it's like losing their mother all over again. So they rebel even more.
Through magic and sensibility Nanny McPhee calms the children and teaches them to teach themselves. Will kids like 'Nanny McPhee?' I know my little sister, who is seven, has watched it numerous times. Kids love to watch other kids get in trouble. As long as it's not them, they can sit back and say to their mom and dad, "Those kids are really bad, huh?"
Nanny McPhee's lessons come in various forms, but they all begin with the bang of her walking stick on the ground. As the children learn and grow from the lessons, Nanny McPhee begins to lose the oddities that cover her face. A wart disappears, her uni-brow suddenly becomes nice and trimmed. I was never really sure why the children's actions made Nanny McPhee a more presentable person until my wife explained it to me like this. "Nanny McPhee comes to the children as ugly as they are. As they change and become better so does she." Whether this is right or wrong I don't know, but I like it. I also like the fact that even as a kid's movie, it still can cause adults to think and postulate about its meaning. A movie that has all that is something the whole family can enjoy.
I want to give a personal standing ovation to cinematographer Henry Braham (and production designer Michael Howells) for creating one of the most colorful movie world's I can remember. For a period piece, colors like neon green, bright purple, dark blue, and candy pink are some of the most unusual color choices that could have been made, but they work! Transfer the wonderful world of color on Nanny McPhee into a 1080p world of vibrancy and the symphony of colors dances around on the screen. Every scene is packed with rich, vibrant colors. I just love it, and they look astounding in high definition.
While I can spend all day talking about the outrageously awesome color scheme of 'Nanny McPhee,' I must also mention the level of fine detail that is had on this transfer. Areas where brightly colored paint has been worn away on the walls show the age of the house and possibly years of destruction from the children. You can even see small flecks of paint barely hanging on to the walls. You can make out the brushstrokes that applied the paint in the first place. Observe the soft pink chair in Cedric's study and how you can see the fine peach fuzz protruding from its cushions.
Although, maybe when checking out Nanny McPhee's bizarre face, we might find ourselves wishing that the HD wasn't so great looking. Eevery hair on her brown warts is visible. You can even distinguish each and every errant hair that makes up her thick, unruly uni-brow.
This is a superb high definition transfer. While some of the CGI effects, like a dancing donkey, look rather fake, the rest of the film is so stinking colorful and full of life, and all of it is handled so well by this transfer, that this is easily one of the best looking catalog titles I've seen hit Blu-ray.
Without skipping a beat the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio accompanying 'Nanny McPhee' is every bit as lively and detailed as the 1080p video.
The first thing to notice are the healthy, animated surrounds which are constantly piping through ambient sound to help us become more engrossed in the film. When Nanny McPhee pounds her walking stick on the ground, a low grumble rumbles from the sub woofer, and each of the speakers echo with an encompassing effect. When the kids are tearing apart the kitchen it almost feels like you're there witnessing the destruction. Pots and pans are clanged behind us, while we hear other children stirring socks into the mashed potatoes. There are plenty of times where the directionality of voices and sound effects works to perfection as children yell off screen.
Dialogue is always a clear affair. Even when Nanny McPhee whispers to the children, her voice is able to be heard. Overall, this is an absorbing audio mix which places us smack dab into the middle of the movie.
All of the special features for this release come courtesy of the previous DVD release. Although the audio commentary from Emma Thompson is missing, which is very, very strange. The other audio commentary with the kids is included, but Thompson's is missing.
Not only does 'Nanny McPhee' look absolutely stellar on Blu-ray with a solid audio presentation to match, but it's a fun movie that can be enjoyed by both adults and children. A movie light-hearted and fun enough to get laughs from the kids, but deep and thoughtful enough to keep adults entertained with something to think about at the end. 'Nanny McPhee' comes with a hearty recommendation.