Magic is in short supply in this boring fantasy about an enchanted governess (Emma Thompson) hired by a widower(Colin Firth) to take his seven unruly children in hand. The gruesome twist is that the titular Nanny comes with a face full of warts, a snaggle tooth and a schnozz Jimmy Durante would be ashamed of.
Having personally adapted Christianna Brand’s Nurse Matilda stories for the screenplay, this project is clearly close to dear Em’s heart. Whether its calculated whimsy will appeal to anyone else’s is a moot point, as Kirk Jones’ Waking Ned follow-up is nearer to the dire Five Children And It than the Mary Poppins it so cravenly imitates. Angela Lansbury makes a belated big-screen comeback, but the material is so hopelessly fusty, and its heroine so downright unpleasant, that not even Jessica Fletcher can save it.