This second entry in the Nanny McPhee franchise told me nothing further about the stoic title caretaker (Emma Thompson, who wrote the screenplay and also dons tons of facial prosthetics).
What lies behind the butt-ugly mug and the harried expression that drives Nanny to appear out of nowhere and help a parent take charge of unruly offspring? And where did she get the kind of magical staff that would make Gandalf jealous?
The answers probably lie somewhere in the series's source, Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books. Here, Nanny aids a reluctant Isabel (Maggie Gyllenhaal as a convincing Brit), who, while her husband is off fighting in WW2, has to deal with the impending sale of the family farm, five feuding children, and a sea of manure.
At least the A-list cast and crisp direction by TV vet Susanna White lift the film out of the dung heap.