Story

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, directed by Susanna White, is a sequel to Nanny McPhee (2005), based on Christianna Brand’s Nurse Matilda books.

In this new movie, the story is set in the war-torn countryside of 1940s England. The movie opens with scenes of domestic chaos. Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is trying to balance running a small farm, working in a shop, and raising three children while her husband is away at war. Just as Isabel reaches the end of her tether, the incredibly ugly Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) appears at the door and offers to help.

Although initially suspicious of Nanny McPhee, the Green children (Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield and Lil Woods) and their visiting cousins Cyril (Eros Vlahos) and Celia (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) soon come to respect and like this unconventional woman.

Other characters in the movie are Mrs Docherty (Maggie Smith), the doddery owner of the village shop where Isabel works; Mr Docherty (Sam Kelly), who is the volunteer bomb-raid warden; Phil Green (Rhys Ifans), Isabel’s scheming brother; and two female hit-women, Miss Topsey (Sinead Matthews) and Miss Turvey (Katy Brand), who are trying to get back unpaid gambling debts from Phil.

Themes

Separation from a parent; family breakdown; war and death

Violence

This movie contains a great deal of physical and verbal violence. For example:

  • Children yell at each other.
  • Grown-ups yell at children.
  • Children hit and slap each other.
  • Girls pull each other’s hair.
  • Boys try to choke each other.
  • Children hurt themselves. They pull their own hair, and bang their heads on walls and floors.
  • A girl repeatedly slams another girl’s head into the floor.
  • A young boy wanders around a room smashing objects with a cricket bat.
  • A chauffeur pulls a screaming girl out of a car by her feet and then falls into a muddy pool of water.
  • A man is grabbed around the neck by two women and pulled through a hedge.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five. For example:

  • Ordinary objects in a shop (such as cupboards, tools and grocery items) begin moving by themselves and whispering the phrase, ‘The person you need is Nanny McPhee’.
  • Nanny McPhee is occasionally shown in a mysterious, almost sinister, way, which might be frightening to some children.
  • The sky is filled with black clouds and an eerie, whistling wind blows through plants, bushes and trees. At the height of this storm, we hear the phrase, ‘The person you need is Nanny McPhee’.

From 5-8

Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the violent scenes and scary images mentioned above. The following scenes could also worry them:

  • A man burns his hand on a cooking range.
  • A man is threatened several times by two women, who warn that they will remove his kidneys or scrape his innards out and stuff him. Throughout these scenes, the man becomes increasingly scared. Although these scenes are intended to provide some black comedy for older audiences, they could be unsettling for young viewers.

From 8-13

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, one scene in this movie could also scare or disturb younger children in this age group. In this scene, an unexploded bomb lands in the middle of a barley field. A group of children try to defuse it.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie shows some characters passionately kissing each other.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild coarse language and insults.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is a fast-paced comedy that is likely to appeal to audiences of all ages. The young cast members provide particularly convincing performances.

The movie initially shows a great deal of violence between children. But it goes on to send a strong message about learning to work with others, rather than just fighting. It also emphasises family and community loyalty in a sincere and warm way. Viewed from a more critical perspective, however, this movie could also be seen as suggesting that you can use coercion and fear to enforce obedience.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include sharing, helping each other, faith, loyalty, and courage.