DVD Review: The Nanny Diaries

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I thought this movie was average to slightly-below average.

I generally like Scarlet Johanssen. She’s got that old fashioned lovely thing going. I also like Paul Giamatti (except he’s not nice in this movie). I have no strong feelings one way or the other for Laura Linney. I suppose they were good enough for a movie like this … no one had to be a superior actor to live up to the roles here. Oh, I nearly forgot–Alicia Keyes was also in it. The fact that I forgot about her is telling …

Scarlet played Annie, a recent college grad with a minor in anthropology who, by a series of unfortunate events, became a nanny. The plight of put-upon, overworked nannies was a common theme. One nanny with an island accent complained she was stuck raising another woman’s brat while her son grew up without his mother. (Then why not find a different job and go raise her son? She could’ve bagged groceries or flipped burgers for his sake, couldn’t she?)

Annie used the anthropology angle throughout the movie–looking upon both working women and Manhattan socialites as objects of cultural and sociological study. Perhaps it was in the name of unbiased field observation that she allowed Mrs. X (Linney) to walk all over her from the moment she was hired. I had a really hard time sitting through the movie, simply because I was appalled that she didn’t have the wherewithal to stand up for herself. Mrs. X repeatedly walked into Annie’s bedroom without knocking, intruded on Annie’s days off, and made restrictions on her personal life; Annie’s response was to stutter and backpedal quite a bit. I acknowledge the importance of serving others, of kindness and humility. However, an adult should be able to say, “Please knock on my bedroom door before you come in,” and expect that wish to be followed … no?

I found the relationship with Harvard Hottie a little too fluffy. Doesn’t every story about a girl out of her element need a love interest? Well here he is! Oh, and their first encounter must include the female lead in a compromising position if possible. I know: Let’s pull her pants down and have her bent over so everyone sees her cute behind!

(Sigh.)

HH was a rich boy whose parents weren’t around for his growing up years; I suppose that was meant to account for his down-to-earth personality and likeability. But I suspect his life was much like those of his rich and rather crude friends … so why did he come out different? HH had absolutely no depth. He was just a pretty face with some cute lines.

It wasn’t until Annie was fired (and had a drink or two) that she spoke up. (That scene was pretty contrived too.) The final result: Mrs. X left spoiled socialite status behind, becoming someone we (the audience) could like without inhibition. She left her cheating husband, began to mother her son, and just became an overall better person. Gee, if only Annie had said something sooner! It’s obvious Mrs. X just needed to be confronted in order to become a better person! Isn’t that what we all need?

Overall I’d give the movie a 2/5 stars. That’s only because I liked the cool “person turned museum display” or “person turned watercolor art” thing they did.

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