Hilarity ensues as McPhee continues to show the children the error of their ways. There's plenty here to keep everyone amused: a flying motorcycle, tornadoes of barley, a baby elephant too cute for words, and swimming piglets. Slowly, but surely, the children's attitudes change and eventually they are not only talking to each other, but helping each other, playing with each other, and most importantly, truly caring for each other. It's a wonderful transformation that is reflected in the various war medals McPhee wears: Courage, Kindness, Resolve, Enthusiasm, and Leaps of Faith.

There's a lot happening in this movie—not only on a moral/ethical level, but also on a philosophical level. For instance, with each lesson the children learn, some "ugly" characteristic disappears from McPhee's face, until last, by the end of the movie, she is "beautiful." It's as if she's displaying the ugliness of the children in her features. But as their ugliness fades and they become lovelier human beings, so, too, does McPhee become lovelier.

This is a bright, perky, fast-paced hybrid of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that not only has a lot humor, but has some extraordinarily tender moments. (I admit it, a tear came to my eye at the film's ending.) Nanny McPhee Returns is a marvelous family film for its pure entertainment value, as well as for content that could easily be used to generate some great discussions between parents and their kids.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  No cursing except for a couple instances of "bloody." Only crass words such as "poo" and mild name-calling amongst the children.

  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  None.

  • Sex/Nudity:  None.  Mr. and Mrs. Green share a kiss. The dresses of two women are blown up a bit by the wind and substantial (not skimpy) undergarments are briefly exposed. 

  • Violence/Crime:  Only choreographed fighting of the physical comedy variety amongst the children (hair-pulling, nose-pulling, light punching, chasing, etc.). In a few scenes that are played for laughs, Uncle Phil is also bullied by two "henchmen" women who are more amusing than menacing as they try to collect a debt for their boss (they threaten him by saying they will remove one of his kidneys if he doesn't pay up, and prepare to do so with surgical equipment but are not able to follow through).  In one scene that could be scary for very young children, Mrs. Green is walking home in the dark when the wind begins blowing violently and voices are whispering all around her. 

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  • Spirituality/Other:  Nanny McPhee has magical powers which she releases by pounding her walking stick on the ground.  Results of this magic include animals doing out-of-the-ordinary things such as synchronized swimming and walking upstairs in a farmhouse, sleeping side by side with the children in their bed, a bird that communicates with Nanny McPhee, etc. In one scene, these powers cause the children to fight against themselves rather than with each other before a lesson is eventually learned. The origin of such powers is never explained.