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Nanny McPhee

By BROOKE HOLGERSON  |  January 25, 2006
2.5 2.5 Stars
CHILD'S PLAY: gothic-lite for the under-10 crowd.This sweet confection stars Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay, adapting the Nurse Matilda children’s books) as the magical nanny who descends on a brood of unruly motherless British children and ever-so-gently teaches them to behave. Although the premise veers close to reality-TV land, the execution is less shrill, more gothic-lite for the under-10 crowd. Colin Firth lends his amiable presence as the overwhelmed father, and because every fairy tale needs one, Angela Lansbury appears as a wicked aunt. Director Kirk Jones keeps the kids from being too adorable by having them act like brats for the first third of the film, though they still tend to blend indistinguishably. Only Thomas Sangster, playing the ringleader, stands out, toning down the precociousness that made his story line in Love, Actually so unbearable. The film never builds to a comic boil, but it does maintain a genial good humor that lasts throughout.
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