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The Nanny Diaries
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although teens might love Scarlett Johansson, this movie is about nannies and employee/employer relations -- hardly a big topic of interest for the average 13 year old. Many parents are presented as overprivileged, immature prima donnas. The strain between the central "bad" parent (an upper-class New Yorker) and her less-upper-crust nanny leads to some sad, tense scenes featuring a young boy, as well as some frank discussion of parenting goals and strategies. The film also includes mild sexual imagery (cleavage, kissing, a couple of uncomfortable groping scenes) and drinking (mostly social, though at one point Annie deliberately gets drunk). Language includes one use of "f--k" in anger, plus "s--t," "hell," and the other usual suspects.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Recent college grad Annie (Scarlett Johansson) wants to change the world. An aspiring anthropologist, she reads Margaret Mead and studies the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History. Soon she's studying "bizarre social patterns" of an alien culture less than an hour away from her New Jersey home, as nanny to the X family: Upper East Side denizen Mrs. X (Laura Linney), Mr. X (Paul Giamatti), and 6-year-old charge Grayer (Nicholas Art).
Is it any good?
THE NANNY DIARIES has very little new to say. Instead, it provides Annie with a shaky moral high ground: She'll have to learn some lessons and also find true love with the Harvard Hottie (Chris Evans), who just happens to live upstairs from the Xs. Worse, as she observes little Grayer's efforts to make sense of his disgruntled parents, Annie writes a "field diary," a too-cute way for the film to take her point of view, even when she misreads situations.
Linney's smart performance helps smooth over the film's frequent overstatements, but, for the most part, it's a very slightly dialed down version of The Devil Wears Prada, a book Annie happens to read on the beach -- so you're aware that the film is aware of its own borrowings. Perhaps most frustrating is the movie's focus on beleaguered women, which doesn't lead to any sense of "freedom" (despite the fact that George Michael's song by that name shows up on the soundtrack a couple of times). "I don't think that having money makes it any easier," Annie opines at last.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's main conflict: Why does Annie think Mrs. X is a bad parent? Do you agree with her? Why or why not? What makes someone a "good" or "bad" mom or dad? Is it different in real life than it is in movies and on TV shows? How? Do you think Mrs. X thinks she's a good mom? What is Annie's role in the X family? How does she see herself compared to how the Xs see her?
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