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"The Nanny Diaries" did not get very good reviews but I liked the
previews so I decided to see it instead of another movie that got much
better reviews and I'm glad I did.
"The Nanny Diaries" is entertaining the entire time. It might not have you rolling in the aisles like "Superbad," but it is not that kind of movie.
The main reason to see this film is because of Scarlett Johansson. She makes Annie the Nanny such a sympathetic character, that we stay interested in the film and we care about what happens to her. Scarlett Johansson made a name for herself doing a lot of independent film but this is probably her best performance in a mainstream film. Not only is her acting phenomenal, she is the world's most beautiful nanny.
A lot of the professional reviews seem to have been disappointed by "The Nanny Diaries" because it was written and directed by the same people who did "American Splendor." They were expecting something more like that film. "The Nanny Diaries" is not that kind of film. It is not particularly quirky and it will probably appeal to a wide audience. I thought it was better than "The Devil Wears Prada," which it often gets compared to.
"The Nanny Diaries" is absolutely mandatory viewing for Scarlett Johansson fans. For anyone else, this film might win you over.
When this movie was unceremoniously yanked back in April 2007, right before its initially scheduled release, I thought it must be pretty bad. I had enjoyed the book, and so was already disappointed. But I decided to see it anyway, just out of curiosity. At first, I found myself finding fault...like when the preschool doors just open up and small children pour out of it onto the street. Like that's going to happen in an urban area ANYWHERE in this country what with all the fear of kidnapping we have these days. That and a few other little niggly details bothered me at first, but as the movie went on, I found myself caring about the characters; enjoying the story. It's not like the book, but that's probably good. I don't think the book is written in a way that would translate well to the big screen. The ending was a bit happier than the book, but in this kind of movie, the happy ending was welcome. I found myself enjoying this movie in spite of my own predisposition to be underwhelmed by it. It's not going to win any Oscars or anything, but I thought it a find effort for all involved, particularly Laura Linney, Paul Giamatti, and Scarlet Johansen!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This watered-down social commentary about the caste system among NYC
snobs and their domestic help is as esoteric as the book that inspired
it. Given a title that promises biting wit, bitch fights, and
outrageous behavior, one wakes up the morning after watching the film
curiously empty; not only does he not remember a single scene from the
film, but he forgets he saw the bloody thing in the first place. Laura
Linney's usually electrifying screen presence is dumbed down to a few
tantrums and forced smiles, all meant to imply, I suppose, the
shallowness of a rich and privileged life. The usually wonderful Paul
Giammatti fares no better, coming off as a fat stupid lout whose
dialogue was apparently written by someone who watched too many
Lifetime movies. In fact, the whole endeavour is EXACTLY like a
Lifetime movie: mind-numbingly insipid, told from the point of view of
the oppressed woman (here represented by the horribly miscast Scarlet
Johansson), complete with sistah support (Alicia Keys) and one of the
most boring gay guys you've ever seen on film. Love interest WASP Dopey
the Wonder Boy rounds out the cast of caricatures as a down-to-earth
Harvard graduate with a sob story and dimples, and of course he's
nothing like his dumbass friends. He really wants to date the nanny.
But I could forgive all of that junk if the film had dared to plumb the depths of the social strata with which it purports to be familiar. But it doesn't, it carefully flits across the top of the upper crust society, never landing anywhere, and we frustratingly see only glimpses of tantalizing gossip: What the hell does Mrs. X exactly do all day long that takes her away from her weirdly-named son (Grayer)? The movie won't tell us, preferring to keep its mouth shut and devoting the entire hour and a half to Annie's moral dilemma in staying with Grayer instead of moving on with her life. It's an admirable quality for a protagonist, but also a very boring one. What I wouldn't give to see Mrs. X on a bender, eating mini donuts in the back of her limo wearing only a fur, or flirting with a doorman or something. ANYTHING. Did anyone ever see Valerie Perrine in that dumb movie with Ally Sheedy years ago, where Sheedy was her maid? The ultra-rich Perrine was fantastic, saving all her bits of aluminum foil so she could recycle them and make a few cents, mashing up all the soap slivers in the house into a big ball so she could make "soap for the servants' quarters". This is what I wanted to see, rich people gone weird.
Anyhoo, the movie ends pretty much as you might expect, Mrs. X becomes enlightened, etc etc etc. You've seen it all before if you've ever watched five minutes of any Lifetime movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So I'm not a reader, but I did read The Nanny Diaries awhile back.
Having been a nanny, I was very interested in the content. I really
appreciated the issues brought forth by the authors, and agreed with
many of their insights.
The movie, unfortunately, seems to lighten rather than shine light on the core issues of the book, adding a whimsical tone throughout that I found disappointing. Of greater disappointment, however, was the addition of greater sympathy for the child's mother (Mrs. X) paired with continued vilification of the child's father (Mr. X). In fact, Mrs. X's character is even redeemed at the end while the evil Mr. X is sent packing.
I found it quite irritating that this "modern-day Mary Poppins" followed the bizarre precedent of its predecessor in ultimately placing much of the blame for the children's woes in the lap of the (overly) hard-working father who is, at least, providing income for the family while the mother is off pursuing her own unrelated interests. Thankfully, the male-bashing was not quite as overt as using the phrase "as a group, they're rather stupid" in reference to men, which is a line from Mary Poppins. Don't get me wrong, Mr. X did lack any redeeming qualities, however throwing Mrs. X an undeserved lifeline at the end while allowing Mr. X to drown seemed a bit fishy.
A somewhat confusing subplot also exists with Annie's (the Nanny) mother. While the main focus of the movie seems to be on the evils of luxury and the importance of raising children, Annie's sweet, lovable mother consistently nags Annie to enter the world of business and finance in pursuit of a "better" life. The mother reminds Annie that she worked years of overtime, etc. as a nurse to give Annie the chance to go to a good school and work towards the high life. She is also appalled to learn of Annie's waste-of-time job raising a child.
So, what I gathered from the movie is that it is only OK to leave your child for hours on end if you are a nurse from New Jersey who is trying to give your child an opportunity to one day work his/her way up to a life of luxury (which will, in turn, presumably make said child evil and heartless). Needless to say, the messages in the movie were quite mixed. I read a couple of personal reviews on this movie and they both used the word "cute", which is a far cry from the point of the book. Although I did enjoy seeing the book come to life on the big screen, I have to say that the book was much better. I knew I shouldn't have read a book - it ruined the movie for me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved the book The Nanny Diaries, I lost myself in it, the story of a
student taking care of a 5th Avenue family's son and all the mishaps
that happen was truly a delight to read. So when I heard about a movie
adaptation I couldn't have been happier. When they started announcing
the cast I was pretty pleased with the choices, being a big Scarlett
Johansson fan I knew she could pull if off. Then the movie came out, it
suffered from bad reviews and low ticket sales, so my hope that the
movie would be as good as the book were dampened, but I was still
interested in it.
Well, I finally watched it and I feel so disappointed in this film. The cast are all great and they all did an adequate job. I liked Scarlett Johansson as the lead. The real problem of this movie is that it really strays from the book. I have no problem when film adaptations of books are done differently, if I enjoy the book I might enjoy the movie as well no matter how much the film is changed, as long as those changes are positives one. In this movie the changes were not positive.
It tries to be quirky and funny and really bombs in the humor. And it's source material is both quirky and funny and all the changes they made really made the humor feel forced. That might the problem with this film, it tries to hard to be funny and it just bombs. The magic of the book just didn't translate into the film. What made the book good isn't present here and it's a shame because it is a really fun book to read and this is a really boring movie to watch. The changes in storyline weren't what bother me so much, but the fact that they took something original and turned it into something generic.
The film does have it's saving graces. Johansson and Evans are both very charming in the film and the rest of the cast do a good job. But what they succeeded in doing, at least for me, was establish a relationship between Annie and Grayer. I really bought their relationship and could see how much they meant to each other. Their relationship was truly touching and believable. Unlike the book, which leaves things pretty unresolved, maybe that gives it a touch or realism, this film gives us the perfect happy ending, were the bad guys are reformed and our heroine has found what she was looking for.
I didn't hate the movie, it's fine, it just drags a little. The book is just great and I was hoping that it's film adaptation would live up to it, but it didn't. It's sad to see that something with so much potential was ruined by trying to make it commercial and what ended up happening was that the ruined a great opportunity. Don't let this movie fool you, it is nothing like the book. And though I cannot recommend this movie I do recommend the book to anyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Scarlett Johansson fans will of course make sure not to miss this one.
The premises of this movie are however so familiar and cliché that they
will really need to do a fantastic job to make this a memorable movie.
This the movie makers have not achieved.
The Upper East End parents are so stereotyped that the movie makers don't even bother giving them names, but just call them Mr and Mrs X (Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney). He is a business tycoon who finds relief from fooling around with female subordinates. She is a typical snobbish, dominating, high society woman, but also a victim in the sense of having an even more dominating husband. What kind of life the little kid goes through needs no elaboration and his transformation from a hostile brat to a longing and loving child in his relationship with the new nanny (Johansson, of course) is predictability itself.
And I don't agree with what some critic say that this movie is comparable to The devil wears Prada, just because both have a dominating middle-aged woman and an unsophisticated lassie. How lazy can the critics get in resorting to such superficiality? There are dominating women and there are dominating women, and for those who have seen both movies, it's an insult to their intelligence to try to explain why the characters played by Meryl Streep and Laura Linney are far more different than they are similar.
And I don't agree either with the critics who say that Laura Linney has turn in a particularly great performance. She is an excellent actor, she delivers in this movie (I never expect her to be otherwise, in any movie) but I've seen her doing better in many other movies ("Kinsey", "The squid and the whale", just to name two). But it is quite refreshing to see Paul Giamatti, after appearing in so many endearing roles ("Sideways", "Lady in the water" and even "Cinderella man"), portray a totally disgusting character. While the mere sight of Johansson will bring eternal joy to her fans, I don't think this is a particularly impressive picture for her. I like her much better in "Scoop".
"The nanny diaries" is not a movie that will irritate or annoy you; it's just one that you are not likely to remember. What I'll remember most will be its references to Mary Poppins, from the cute montages with the red umbrella, down to even the cell phone ring tones of "chim chimney, chim chimney".
"The Nanny Diaries" certainly has to be a feel good summer movie, it's entertaining and sweet and a coming of age story as told thru one characters point of view. The ever beautiful and attractive Scarlett Johansson stars as Annie Braddock a suburban New Jersey girl who just graduates college and she has dreams of becoming an anthropologist. Yet beyond that much isn't clear so Annie moves to New York City to take a job as a nanny and first she feels freedom! Only to soon have reality crash in once she's hired by a Manhattan socialite and sophisticated classy upper east side narcissist called Mrs. X(Laura Linney) who does nothing, but shop and eat out all day and attend glamour events. So it now falls on Annie to look after five year old Grayer(Nicholas Art) and it's very tough as to Mrs. X Annie never does anything right. Also Mr. X isn't much better played okay by Paul Giamatti who really is nothing more than a successful business man who's hooked on any attractive female in a skirt and short shorts. Yet all along the way attachment and friendship is developed between Annie and Grayer a real coming of age story for Annie to see this society in an anthropological way and learn from it and come of age. As in the end Annie convinces Mrs. X to be a loving mom and Annie sees her real passion is grad school not a nanny. Really a touching comedy that educates showing people have to learn thru experience and culture what life is right for them and that dealing with different cultures is a loving and life remembering experience. Scarlett Johansson gives a very sweet and people pleasing performance that she just glows on the screen making this a sleeper hit comedy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I realize most books require a LOT of adapting to work as movies, but
Emma Laughlin & Nicola Kraus's biting, insightful "Nanny Diaries" was a
slim book, with a straightforward story line -- we aren't talking
"Gravity's Rainbow" here. It was sharp and gossipy, amusing in a
clear-eyed, first-hand-knowledge sort of way (both authors worked as
nannies in NYC before writing the book).
None of that makes it to the film, which changes the plot & characters so completely that it might as well be a different story with an entirely different title. In the novel, NAN (presumably short for Nancy) becomes a PART-TIME nanny while she's finishing a graduate degree -- she's not a live-in. The point of the book is that the ridiculous demands of Mrs. X encroach on her life to the point that a poorly paying part-time babysitting gig eventually takes over her far more real needs to finish school and get a real job. She is NOT an anthropologist trying to get a job on Wall Street (why would an anthropology major be trying for a financial job anyways?)
NAN in the book is herself from an old-money New York family -- not a Jersey girl! I guess the filmmakers decided it would make the character "more sympathetic", but it skewers the whole point of the story. In the book, NAN's parents and even grandparents are entirely aware of her part-time babysitting gig -- it's no secret, and it's no more "degrading" than someone who works at the Gap while trying to finish college.
Far from "great paying", one big point the book makes is that the very rich are awful cheapskates when it comes to their "servants". The sharpest detail of the novel is when Nan leaves the summer cottage, and Mrs. X has only paid her $50 for a whole week of 24/7 work -- because, after all, wasn't it a "free beach vacation"?
Scarlett Johannson continues to underwhelm me -- she's very miscast as "Annie" and doesn't look or sound like a Jersey girl. The production has her dressed down, with stringy brown hair and frumpy clothes -- stripped of her beauty, we have to confront her limited acting skills (like not being able to mimic a New Jersey accent). It's painful. The character of NAN called for an actress with a Yuppie, upper class vibe -- in some ways, she's a younger version of Mrs. X and both characters know this .... i.e., if she marries Harvard Hottie, she'll become the next generation Mrs. X. Both the film & actress seem oblivious to this brilliant concept, and instead labor to make this "Upstairs, Downstairs -- which it emphatically is NOT.
The usually wonderful Laura Linney tries hard, but is wasted in a part dumb-ed down to that of a Stepford wife -- not mention, she's dressed and coiffed as if it were 1962, not 2007. (In the book, Mrs. X exudes "casual chic", like plain ballet flats that cost $600.)
The stunningly beautiful Alicia Keyes has a small part, but despite a lovely husky voice she has no real ability to carry even a small supporting role -- and the cliché of the "black best girlfriend" is painful. Donna Murphy has a thankless role as the controlling Jersey mom -- a working class nurse who is "horrified" to see her college age daughter doing child care, a distinction that makes no sense (who watched Annie while her single mom was working as a nurse? duh!). This is a tired cliché, and doesn't exist in the novel.
Unable to see clever, sharply observed social critique in the novel (do the filmmakers have their own "nanny issues"?), the film relies on prolonged, uncharming fantasy sequences ala "Mean Girls" (i.e., treating the subject matter as if it's an anthropological study, etc.). It's not a surprise that this film was held back from release for a long while (probably reworked a lot, to no good effect).
SPOILER ALERT: In the novel, Mr. X is cheating on Mrs. X -- and we learn that SHE stole HIM away from his first wife in the exact same way. In order to hang on to him, she does indeed get pregnant -- it's not a hoax. She doesn't divorce him, she doesn't "reform", and every indication is that poor neglected Grayer will grow up to be exactly like his selfish dad. NAN graduates and presumably gets a "real" (non-nanny) job. But there is no apologetic letter from Mrs. X to her -- the point of the novel is that the X's have learned nothing and will continue on with their horrible ways, oblivious to their son and (presumably) their next baby.
This film needed to be a sharp, humorous, black comedy of manners and instead, its a flabby, un-funny mess that suffocates every potentially amusing scene and strains for sentiment where none exists. Even the chance to show the "posh lifestyles of the rich" is lazy and unimaginative.
In conclusion: not even worth a rental
I knew absolutely nothing about this movie going in. Didn't know who
was in it or what it was going to be about. To my surprise I enjoyed
the well made movie very much. It had great acting, a solid story, and
whiles not being original had its own unique charms that makes it a
very enjoyable movie.
-The movie tells the story of Annie, who is a recent graduate plucked into a world she wasn't expecting. She plans to be a financial consultant or something like that but ends being a nanny by chance. The rest of the movie follows her on her adventure as she learns what it takes to be a nanny in NY, and also learns what it takes to survive life.
-The film-making technique is not necessarily an original one in which the main character narrates the whole story but what helps in this one is that its quite an entertaining narration and she doesn't narrate the whole movie so it does help. The odd visual style is also nicely done with some unique effects and one really weird scene in which we see Annie flying through New York all Mary Poppins style.
-Scarlett Johansson is building quite an impressive resume with this brilliant movie. Last year she was great in "The Prestige" and now this year she knocks it out of the park in this. I unlike 99.7% of men don't find her hot nor do I fantasize about her, but she is a very good actress and I hope she gets more roles that showcases her acting assets like this one did.
Singer turned actress Alicia Keys plays the best friend Lynette. She's not featured an awful lot in the movie, but the small doses of her are well acted.
Laura Linney plays the cold and kinda misunderstood Mrs. X. Yeah she seems like z shrewd cold hearted woman when we first meet her, but after getting to know her husband Mr. X played the great Paul Giamatti, we begin to understand why she does certain things that she does. Linney has one great scene towards the end of the movie in which she realizes what horrible mother she has been and the way Linney plays that scene is truly the stuff of great acting. Instead of going all over emotional, she simply just lets a tear fall down her face and that simple tear just nails everything she's feeling at that moment.
At the end of the day I really enjoyed this fun movie. It had comedy, romance, child abuse and life lessons. It may not have great replay value but the first viewing should please everyone that watches it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an excellent Date Movie. It peers into the "upper East Side,
Manhattan" social society and its parallel Nanny universe. It's
faithful to the novel and translates into pure entertainment on screen.
Scarlett Johansson plays Annie Braddock to a T(ee). Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti (as the evil M/M X) spew enough venom to kill a rattlesnake between the pair. You love to hate them! Chris Evans is a lure for the ladies and his chemistry with Scarlett (Annie) works. It is well-balanced fare for a successful date as Summer comes to a close.
Nicholas Art as Grayer is at first troubling (if unruly kids annoy you as they do me); but he slowly carved a place in Annie's (and my) heart. You'll wanna take the kid home with you by film's end.
It's one of the few films that actually gets better with every frame before peaking a moment before the credits roll. The typical recipe these days is a great hook followed by a slow and tedious descent into raw boredom. Nanny Diaries rejuvenated my interest in hitting the theater on date night rather than the book stores.
Is it really like that in their stratosphere? I hope not, but I think so. ... Oy! See it. You'll like it. 8 out of 10.
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