Young kids behaving badly are a common theme in many children's books. Magical nannies like Mary Poppins, who teach proper manners to the kids, are also a staple in these stories. Almost 50 years ago, Christianna Brand wrote similar tales about a nurse who watched over English children sent to the countryside for safety during the Nazi blitz of London.
Oscar winner Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay that adapts Brand's original concept for the screen in "Nanny McPhee Returns." Thompson also stars as the homely nanny and former army nurse who appears out of nowhere to rescue an unruly household. Transplanted city kids have invaded the comfortable world of children on a farm. They wreck havoc on the rural routine while an evil uncle also complicates their situation.
As Nanny McPhee changes each bad habit of the kids, her own ugly features are also transformed. As each child develops worthy character traits, her warts and wrinkles disappear. There's lots of great life lessons along the way to the expected happy ending. It may be predictable, but the wholesome PG plot is a welcome addition to the family-friendly film world.