Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Nanny Diaries: Grade B

The Nanny Diaries

Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Chris Evans, Alicia Keys, Paul Giamatti, Nicholas Art. Co-writers and co-directors Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini.

Johansson is a recent college graduate in NYC who loves anthropology but is urged into business by her mother. To avoid that conflict she becomes a nanny to the ultra rich “Mrs. X” (Linney) on the upper east side. The deeply satirical anthropological analysis of upper class life is, sadly, dropped after a few hilarious minutes in favor of a much milder, but still funny farcical spoofing. Linney plays perfectly the neurotic, child-neglecting, lonesome mother. Scenes are well-written but stereotypical and only superficially humorous rather than fulfilling the promise of acerbic observation. Still, the emotionally desperate plight of the rich women is shown with some sympathy. Scarlett looks fantastic in her natural hair color. Blonde is so wrong for her. The child she cares for (Art) was physically and emotionally unattractive to me, spoiling that relationship. Giamatti is wonderful as the self-obsessed jerk father, a role one would not expect to see him in. The Mary Poppins allusions and the occasional trick camera work seem like afterthoughts inserted to liven up what is basically a sappy, sentimental, “message” movie. Strong acting from Johansson and Linney, great sets, plus a moderately witty script, keep your interest throughout.

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