The Red Right Hand
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THE NANNY DIARIES
A Comedy About Life At The Top, As Seen From The Bottom

Director
Shari Springer Berman
Robert Pulcini

Starring
Scarlett Johansson
Laura Linney
Chris Evans
Paul Giamatti

Before we get this review under way, you all know I'm not the kind of reviewer who dismisses a film because it's a little girly, right? Many of you have even sent e-mails, discussing such films to which I have replied with relevant and positive feedback. So don't think I'm slating this film just because I'm a cold-hearted git.

I have always maintained that two cities in particular are impervious to bad film making; they are London and New York. Now, I realise there have been many classics and classically bad films made in and around these Metropolises but my reasons are fairly sound, if a little vain. I was born London-Irish, I adore London, if I had the cash I would most definitely move back to Highbury. New York is a place I have my eye on for future residence but the reason it survives a terrible film is the location. The whole city is beautiful and therefore if the story is abysmal, you can always look at the scenery. The Nanny Diaries, however, may be the one exception. After sitting through A Mighty Heart, cursing its stupidity and overall inconsequential effect, I thought I was clear of bad films for a while; sadly, I was wrong. Almost every clichéd character, setting and scene is played out in this dire monstrosity. The screening I attended was 95% female and they laughed and cried their way through 105 minutes of escapist drivel.

College graduate, Annie [Johansson], applies for a big financial corporation in the city, sits down in the interview room and is calmly asked, "So, tell me, who is Annie Braddock?" She then has a panic attack and realises she has no clue... apparently. Oddly enough, rather than blagging her way through the interview she replies, "I have absolutely no idea" and runs out. It was at this point when it dawned on me that realism had been written off in favour of relatable-feminine-humour. Again, to ensure no one is under the impression that I am simply a harsh (or worse, sexist) critic/gentleman, I do enjoy Sex And The City; I found it entertaining, humorous and largely true-to-life; however, this piece is pure nonsense bundled up in a cute woolly blanket of slush.

Alright, I'm flagging a little; let's get back to the plot. Annie is sitting in Central Park having a little crisis, not knowing what to do, when she happens upon a little boy and his neurotic mother. Mishearing Annie's introduction, Mrs. X [Linney] assumes she is a nanny by trade and offers her a job... which, for whatever mad reason, Annie accepts. A twenty one year old, successful student decides to take a job working on the Upper-East side of New York City with a horrid family for 'good' money (that you never really see her spending, saving or investing), only to be bullied and treated like dirt - does anything about this seem at all odd to you? I realise it happens all the time, that people need to search themselves but even the other nannies (who are all, comically, immigrants) question Annie's decision, stating they have no choice but to tend to these spoilt rich kids.

Despite the expensive, big-budget sequences, this whole film reeks of tacky, sentimentalised nonsensical scenarios that play out perfectly with that stupid "You're ok, I'm ok, everything's ok, crappy ending" that we are subjected to far too often. Laura Linney's Oscar nominated performances have given her the ability to cry on demand and stare with intensely hurt feelings while desperately trying to keep up appearances, Paul Giamatti plays the work-obsessed, philandering husband perfectly and even the little brat child, Grayer/Grover [Nicholas Art], is talented enough to keep viewers watching but despite all this, the film is still moronic, playing to every obvious and eventual conclusion. Please, for the love of God, avoid this nonsense. This film is mind numbing, annoying as hell and all those involved should feel truly ashamed of themselves.

Release Date:
12th October 2007

The Scene To Look Out For:
I rather liked the museum-themed New York based dioramas for their originality and big budget looks but in the end it was a tad overused. I also enjoyed Paul Giamatti shouting, "You keep out of this, bitch!" at his mother. It was one of the only times I laughed... my good friend, Mr. Wickham and I were the only two laughing but it was still a noteworthy point of humour.

Notable Characters:
I have recently highlighted Chris Evans quite a bit, both in Sunshine and Fantastic Four 2: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. In this instance I cannot and my only reason for mentioning him was for the 2D nature of his character (his name is Harvard Hottie until the closing scene - I imagine that's just a spin on Chris Noth’s 'Mr. Big') and the New York setting. As Fantastic Four is set in New York, I discovered that muttering, "Flame on, Grover!" at the end of his scenes worked out rather well The character I actually wanted to draw your attention to was Donna Murphy, who plays Annie's mother. In a film about bad parenting and poor mothers, this one takes the cake. She's meant to be supportive and wonderful but just whines and moans about how she slaved for years to put her daughter through a good college, blah blah, single mother, blah blah, call me when you’ve got your act together, blah blah, I love you, blah blah. For the majority of the film, she isn't around and is kept in the dark about her daughter's occupational selection but when she does show up, when her daughter needs her most, she just walks away - good parenting. The best part is that her closing statement translates to "it's ok to be a bum, if you want to" but because of the cheery epilogue, we can assume everything worked out just fine.

Highlighted Quote:
"How are the Dads? Well, they're fat, balding business execs who stink of whiskey and cigars and get are more interested in the Wall Street stock exchange than the hot nanny. As that will be you guys in about five years, I'd say the outlook is pretty fucking bleak! ................................FLAME ON!"

In A Few Words:
"From the directors of American Splendor I expected much more; she doesn't even keep a diary! Just go and watch The Devil Wears Prada instead"

Total Score:
2/10


Matthew Stogdon