Friday, 25 September 2020
The Nanny Diaries
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 28 August 2007 00:00
If the whole of society were reflected by the lives of Manhattan socialite moms it would mark the end of humankind. First, breast-feeding would become obsolete because all mammary tissue would have been replaced with silicon implants. Second, each family would have only one child because everyone knows you lose elasticity with every pregnancy and those stretch marks just don’t fade. Next would come the children, whose regimented schedules and sanitized environments would turn them into pasty little workaholics by the age of four. As adults they could feed small countries with what they pay their therapists in an attempt to work out abandonment issues. And finally, of course, as adults they wouldn’t have children of their own! Who would want to put a child through all that?

So there you have it, the destruction of mankind in a single generation as brought on by the Manhattan socialite mother. My theory is backed by the observations of a young grad student who becomes a nanny for just such a family in The Nanny Diaries starring Scarlett Johansson.

Though it is getting less-than-rave-reviews at the box-office, I found myself sort of enjoying this movie in spite of the fact. It’s no masterpiece, but for a bit of mindless fluff you could do worse. The movie makes an effort at social commentary and tries to pack in a morality lesson it could do without, but otherwise this is a cotton candy comedy.

Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) has just graduated from college and can’t seem to escape the pressures of growing up and settling on a career. She can’t help but wonder if the corporate world is really for her. When opportunity (in the form of a little boy) literally falls in her lap she can’t resist taking it and decides to become a nanny for the summer. It sounds like a dream job; living in luxury with a wealthy Manhattan family. Until she realizes that she also has to put up with their dysfunctional lives!

Laura Linney plays the snobby mother who walks a fine line between being a devilish dictator and a victim of her own circumstance. This demanding mom has already fired one nanny for simply going on a date. Linney’s performance was good, although I couldn’t help but compare her with the subtle evil of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Scarlett Johansson is likeable enough, but I’m looking forward to seeing her stretch her limits as an actor again like in the early stages of her career. So far she has done nothing to outshine Lost in Translation or Girl With A Pearl Earring. This actress is capable of handling a lot more than the perils of dating rich boys or how cute her outfit is.

Cameo performances include Paul Giamatti making an unexpected appearance as the extremely unlikeable father who has no time for his son but all the time in the world for philandering. Singer Alicia Keys plays a thoroughly useless best friend character who could have been written out of the script altogether.

The filming is good, with some nice camera work that gives it a more interesting style. I liked the fantasy sequences of museum displays depicting different types of women and mother figures around the globe.

The Nanny Diaries might not be worth dishing out big bucks for, unless you are a mother who is paying a sitter for a few hours of peace. In which case it just might fit the bill perfectly. I give The Nanny Diaries 5 out of 10 stars.