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Nanny McPhee Returns (outside the USA and Canada: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, 2010) ***

Nanny McPhee ReturnsEmma Thompson's second installation of Nanny McPhee loses some of its original charm in favor of computerized special effects. It also suffers from several corny scenes and a totally soapy ending. In short, the second installation pales in comparison to the previous charmer. I also didn't appreciate the messages the film subconsciously conveys: 1. That external appearance of beauty represents goodness while any deformity or signs of age (warts, unibrow, grey hair...) are symbols of evil one should hope to do away with (this is nothing new in children films – after all, Disney mastered it...) 2. If one looks closer, one notices that ultimately the way the Nanny enforces her lessons is by sheer brute force… For example, the first lesson - to stop fighting, is enforced by having the children beat themselves. Even if the Nanny does not use her own hands to smack the kids, it’s still her doings – the kids arms become an extension of hers. I find this approach a dishonest one. If you agree that children should be broken into obedience by use of force, why disguise it? I find this to be dishonest. On the brighter side – Thompson does create a nice setup for the new story (a family whose father is away fighting WWII) and instead of repeating the first film’s story, create a totally new one. Some scenes are quite ingenious, funny, and mostly well-acted. The children liked it much but for me, as a fan, the results didn’t meet the expectations.

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