Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang review

The governess strikes back...

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“Everybody stop shouting!” screams Maggie Gyllenhaal’s stressed World War 2 mum at the start of this whimsical modern-day Mary Poppins. If only.

Her five precocious charges seem to operate only at ‘shrill’ in this all-star romp about a magical child-tamer, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson), who teaches niceness to warring cousins with parental anxieties.

Plus there’s plenty of sticky delights for the nippers with over-flowing treacle and poo jokes.

Thankfully, Gyllenhaal (sporting spot-on plummy twang) and Thompson offset moppet-overload with heartfelt performances that sneak up and sucker-punch adults, while Maggie Smith, Rhys Ifans and Bill Bailey have fun as OTT support.

Though cute, sweet and rammed with enchanted animals (the porcine synchronised-swimming is a highlight), McPhee falls a smidgeon short of the original’s charm with a plodding pace, and a final, frantic reel that outstays its welcome.

But like McPhee herself, it’s hard not to like this cinematic hug – warts and all.

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Editor-in-Chief, Total Film

Jane Crowther is a contributing editor to Total Film magazine, having formerly been the longtime Editor, as well as serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Film Group here at Future Plc, which covers Total Film, SFX, and numerous TV and women's interest brands. Jane is also the vice-chair of The Critics' Circle and a BAFTA member. You'll find Jane on GamesRadar+ exploring the biggest movies in the world and living up to her reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on film in the industry.