The Nanny McPhee Theory
Whilst the first "Nanny McPhee" movie worked I always felt it worked for a very specific target audience of young girls rather than for all the family. Thankfully that issue has been sorted when it comes to the sequel "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang" as this is fun for all the family. And whilst we get the expected part of Nanny McPhee showing up to assist in dealing with a handful of children who are each a handful we also get a further storyline about saving a family farm which adds some nice variation to things.
With her husband away fighting for the country Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Heart) is left to look after her 3 children, the farm, work in the shop and now her niece and nephew have arrived having been evacuated from London. Whilst Isabel would like to think she is coping she most certainly isn't and so magically Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson - The Boat That Rocked) shows up at her door and before Isabel knows it has managed to get the fighting children to bed. With Nanny McPhee taking charge the children are soon towing the line but Isabel has other problems most notably keeping the farm especially with her brother-in-law Phil (Rhys Ifans - The 51st State) trying to trick her in to selling because he owes money to a debt collector.
One of the good things about "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang" is the simple fact it is not just a repeat of the first movie. It repeats the parts you expect as Nanny McPhee's blemished complexion smoothes out as she takes control of the children with the aid of some magic but it doesn't stretch any of this out. In fact whilst we have some fun as Nanny McPhee introduces a baby elephant and also mischievous, synchronize swimming pigs to the mix in order to teach the children a lesson it is all done very quickly.
That means that whilst we have the amusement of Isabel's children and their cousins rowing and then coming under control the majority of the movie focuses on keeping the farm and the nefarious Uncle Phil trying to trick Isabel into selling. It is again a lot of fun as he is devious and shifty but more importantly it is fun for all the family rather than being a romance like the first movie. And the whole saving the farm plays out in a nice playful and more importantly imaginative way which will amuse children. Plus whilst we have a slightly daft bomb disposal scene towards the end it does pave a way for a brilliant piece of cleverness which will bring a smile to your face.
All of which is as you would expect totally inoffensive and just simply fun with enjoyable performances through out with Maggie Gyllenhaal in particular impressing with her wartime English accent. But whilst we of course have Emma Thompson and it is always a delight to see Maggie Smith in a movie it is the children who are the star of this sequel. And in particular Asa Butterfield who as Norman Green leads the bunch of children nicely.
What this all boils down to is that "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang" is a surprisingly good sequel which not only comes up with a nice variation on the story but more important a storyline which is more family focused entertainment rather than aimed at young girls which was my main criticism of the first movie.