Dubby’s dvdiscussion: For the family


Two films for children of all ages are in town and truly worth seeing. Not as whimsical as Mary Poppins and with a certain darkness to it is Nanny McPhee, which is pure delight.

Critic Kit Bowen writes, “McPhee starts with some very naughty children — seven of them in fact, who, led by the oldest boy Simon (Thomas Sangster), have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies. Their father, widower Mr Brown (Colin Firth), a nice enough fellow, is at wits end, coupled by the fact his rich Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) is pressuring him to marry again. If there was ever a need for Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson), this is it. Leave it to Thompson to throw vanity to the wind and give one of her more appealing performances in a long while. Nanny McPhee is a woman of few words, conveying her point by either staring one directly in the eye or planting her magical cane squarely on the ground. And boy, is she ugly — unless, of course, you start obeying her five simple rules. Then her appearance mysteriously changes. The kids are also entirely adorable, even when they are throwing food around or calling each other ‘bum!’ The standout is Sangster as the ringleader. Lansbury, who makes her first feature film appearance in two decades, is deliciously over the top as the domineering Adelaide, while Firth, as the hapless widower, and Kelly MacDonald, as the Browns’ sweet scullery maid, add that loving touch.”

RV is yet another journey about discovery itself with Robin Williams as a man trying to save his job and in the process learns about his family and the world. Says Jeff Shannon, Hollywood writer, “The long tradition of family vacation comedies continues in RV, with Williams. He succeeds, by settling comfortably into his role as well-meaning husband and father Bob Munro. Determined to combine work and pleasure, Bob rents the titular motor home to drive his wife (Cheryl Hines), teenage daughter (Joanna ‘JoJo’ Levesque) and pre-teen son (Josh Hutcherson) on a scenic vacation in the Colorado Rockies while secretly preparing his presentation for a high-stakes corporate merger. Their dysfunctional road trip leads to repeated encounters with the all-too-happy Gornicke family (led by Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth), who only appear to be stupid rednecks, when in fact they represent the familial togetherness that Bob is striving to regain.”

Adds Williams, “I think it’s nice if a comedy has powerful content. Pure comedies are just fun, which are great, especially now when people just want to go ‘I just want to have a good time, man. Don’t hit me with a message’. But this one has a little bit of that just because of the fact it talks about a family connecting again. In the midst of this technology and all this hectic life and all of sudden they find themselves without it and go ‘Hey, hello’. And they start to be a family; they start to have a good time without all the stuff. And it’s interesting.”

If there’s any sentiment or emotion, it just comes in very little doses. It’s there if people get it. It’s not designed to go ‘Oh, it’s the sad man’. This guy is basically an alpha who has to drop all pretence and kind of go ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and meets his family again without all the technology, without all the stuff that supposedly helps us communicate, that allows you to kind of hide behind.”