Dubby’s dvdiscussion: New York Nanny


There is a neck to neck race between Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway and so far in my horribly biased opinion I prefer Ms Hathaway for no reason at all. Anne was brilliant up against Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada a chick-flick, which echoes The Nanny Diaries.

Scarlett Johansson plays a life-on-hold college grad who becomes a nanny to a rich Manhattan couple who seem demented but typical. The ‘Nanny’ sees her job as examining an exotic tribe.

The parallels between Nanny and Prada are unnerving with Laura Linney doing the Meryl Streep part with a bitchiness that matches the Devil in Prada.

Early on in the movie a narrator notes, “In Africa they have a saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ But for the tribe of the Upper Eastside of Manhattan, it takes just one person, the nanny” who works overtime to such an extent that her employer says in a stunned tone when the nanny wants to see her mother, “Nanny, you never mentioned you had a mother” as though nannies were shot out of giant pods.

Says critic Kit Bowen, “Based on the bestseller by co-writers Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, The Nanny Diaries paints a pretty dim picture of the wealthy Upper East Side folk who are too busy with their professional and/or social lives to raise the children they think they needed to have. As seen through the idealistic Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson), a 21-year-old New York University grad who has dreams of being an anthropologist, being a nanny to a rich kid isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Annie takes the job of looking after the precocious six-year-old son of a super-wealthy couple she calls “The X’s” as a way to clear her head before moving on with her life. But Annie quickly learns that life is not very rosy on the other side of the tax bracket, as she must cater to every whim of Mrs X (Laura Linney) and attempt to avoid the formidable Mr X (Paul Giamatti), and try to comfort a lonely little boy who just wants to be loved by his parents, so Annie goes native.

Just as The Devil Wears Prada had Meryl Streep to raise it above its frivolity, The Nanny Diaries has Laura Linney. Her Mrs X is a brilliant case study in duality, On the one hand, Mrs X is carefully manicured, an uptight high society dame planning fund raisers, attending ‘Nanny Cam’ seminars and ignoring her little boy; on the flipside, she is just as lonely and wanting of love as her son. Linney’s vulnerable moments are the most heartbreaking, especially when she sits through Annie’s chastisement about her parenting skills on a nanny-cam tape, in front of a group of her high society friends. This performance probably won’t give Linney an Oscar nod and Giamatti as the distant, hands-off husband makes his presence known, but it’s pretty much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance. As for our leading lady, Johansson fares well among the upper classes as the kindly Annie. And for the ladies, there’s Chris Evans (Fantastic Four), as Annie’s would-be suitor, whom she dubs “Havard Hottie.” Hottie, indeed.

Actually, the comparisons between The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada are numerous. Both are adaptations from bestsellers written by women; both skew Manhattan’s highfalutin upper class; and both incorporate idealistic female college grads who face tough women and get caught up but somehow manage to ground themselves eventually.”