Nanny McPhee Returns

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Nanny McPhee Returns Movie Poster Image
Fantasy isn't as enchanting as original, but it's still fun.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 25 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Through Nanny McPhee's lessons to the children, young viewers will learn the importance of working with others, following their instincts, and standing up for what they believe and the people they love.

Positive Messages

Nanny McPhee's charges learn to work together, share, act courageously, be selfless, never lose faith, and love each other. It's a strongly positive message for all kids.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although the two uncles aren't positive role models (nor are they intended to be), the women (save for the missing aunt) all are: Mrs. Green is patient, kind, and loving, always going out of her way to help Mrs. Docherty and please her children and niece and nephew. Nanny McPhee herself proves that beauty isn't dictated physically, but rather by what your character has to offer those around you.

Violence & Scariness

Comic violence includes people getting swept up by a sudden gust of wind; a bird expanding and looking like he's about to burst (but he doesn't); kids pushing, shoving, and fighting with each other; and a man being told that he's going to be "stuffed" as penalty for not repaying a loan.

Sexy Stuff

Two kisses between a married couple, and some comic flirting between the hit-women and their target.

Language

Very infrequent use of "hell" and "oh my God." Also, the cousins call each other names like "savages," " "awful," and the like. Other insults include "weak-willed," "cock and bull," "wicked," and "rotten."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fantasy sequel is a great choice for families. The on-screen kids fight and misbehave a lot until Nanny McPhee disciplines them; ultimately, they learn important lessons about being helpful, selfless, and brave. Violence is limited to physical comedy gags like a bird that nearly explodes and two women who look harmless but are actually hit-women. One of the subplots involves a relative who's in the hole for so much money that he tries to bully his sister-in-law to sell her share of the farm.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 7-year-old Written byDale Dietrich April 14, 2020

Not as Good as Original, But Still Good

Most of the family enjoyed this. It holds up well. Wasn't as enjoyable as the first. Story was somewhat lacking. Or maybe, having just watched the original... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written byTV free family November 27, 2014

Odd violence and "training" methods

I rented this movie after reading reviews on this website, stating it was suitable for young children but what a shock! My boys (8 and 10) were really stunned... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymgray06 December 24, 2019

A childhood favorite

Me and my family loved this movie when we were younger. To this day, we constantly make jokes from this film. Like when one of the characters say ‘It’s the land... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old August 19, 2012

Enjoyable Family Movie.

This is a great family movie that my seven year old wants to watch again and again. There are many surprises and delights, a bad guy uncle who tries to cause t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is desperately trying to juggle the demands of her war-deployed husband's farm, her three rambunctious-but-sweet kids, and the arrival of her posh niece and nephew from London. After a particularly awful day when the snooty cousins arrive at the farm, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) appears in all of her snaggle-toothed, hairy-mole-sporting glory to provide Isabel some much-needed relief and teach the kids how to cooperate rather than annoy each other. Adding some dramatic tension to the story is the fact that while Mr. Green (Ewan McGregor) is at war, his brother Phil (Rhys Ifans) has wracked up an insurmountable gambling debt to a mysterious female loan shark and wants Isabel to sign away her share of the farm.

Is it any good?

Because the story is so predictable, there's not much mystery as to how things will turn out, but kids won't care because they'll be too busy enjoying it. They'll be laughing at the flying and swimming piglets, the animal sleepover, and the kids hitting themselves comically until they stop fighting with each other. The magic of the NANNY McPHEE tale is that it's completely derivative (in an endearing way!) of childhood favorites like Mary Poppins and Babe, with a little bit of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang thrown in for extra flying-vehicle fun. Thompson, who also wrote and produced the movie, is obviously comfortable in the governess role and working with children, and her scenes with the kids are amusing. Gyllenhaal -- whose accent is surprisingly pleasant -- is no Colin Firth, but she's lovely and sweet, and you can't help but cheer for her and her friend, the forgetful Mrs. Docherty (Maggie Smith).

Other aspects of the movie, however, fall flat -- like the window putty-eating bird, the sweet-but-creepy hit-women, and the annoying Uncle Phil (Ifans), who keeps popping up again and again. But there are a couple of fantastic cameos from men who are no doubt Thompson's friends (McGregor and Ralph Fiennes). Their mere presence in the movie is a delight, especially the great Fiennes as a stiff War Office VIP who's the stand-offish father to the London cousins. Speaking of the cousins, they're appropriately naughty at first and then adorably friendly with each other. The end is particularly sentimental, because there's a tie-in to the first film, leaving open the possibility that Nanny McPhee will strike yet again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Nanny McPhee means by her rule that when kids want her but don't need her, she must go. How does it affect the family she's with?

  • How do the cousins impact each other? At first they're at each other's throats, but eventually they grow to work together and even love each other. What changes their relationship?

  • How does Nanny McPhee's specific sort of magic allow her subjects to figure out their own problems?

Movie details

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