Netflix A-Z: Nanny McPhee (2005) & Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

Heading into the second half of the alphabet now, we’re going with a little double feature.  I figured if Netflix offers us the chance to watch a series of movies, I might as well take advantage of it, especially if there is only two 😉  So here we are with Nanny McPhee and its sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns (otherwise called Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang).  I’ve been avoiding this one because it feels like a rip-off of Mary Poppins.  For most of you that know me, I’m a huge Disney fanatic and Mary Poppins is among one of my all-time favorites.  I can watch it over and over and over again, know all the words of all the songs and maybe even the dialogue. So, Nanny McPhee has quite the competition if its anything like that.  Honestly, I don’t know much and they are all assumptions but assuming is not a great thing and I’m trying to not do that.

By the way, its October!! Magical nannies…kind of works, right? I keep thinking Nanny McPhee might be a witch so I guess it works that way 😉

Let’s give this a go! 🙂

Nanny McPhee (2005)

nanny mcphee

Director: Kirk Jones

Cast: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly MacDonald, Angela Lansbury, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Imelda Staunton

Cedric Brown has lost his loving wife and now has to make his living and take care of his seven young children.  However, his children are so misbehaved that they have already scared away 17 nannies ever since.  With his Aunt Adelaide who provides him with a monthly allowance to sustain him and his family’s living, she gives him an ultimatum that he either finds himself a wife by the end of the month or she will cut her support.  Its here that Nanny McPhee arrives at his doorstep.  Magically, she offers to teach 5 lessons and her rules are simple: she will stay as long as she is needed but not wanted but when she is wanted but not needed, she has to go.

nanny mcphee

I have to admit that Nanny McPhee is a little odd.  Except, it quickly turns into a charming little movie.  I guess you can’t call a movie little when it has a ton of talented cast from Emma Thompson playing Nanny McPhee to Colin Firth being Cedric Brown and Imelda Staunton being Cook.  Not to mention, Aunt Adelaide being played by Angela Lansbury.  All that talent for this movie with kids that are practically unknown.  Well, they were unknown back then.  Thomas Brodie-Sangster, now 10 years later is rather known especially because of The Maze Runner, Nowhere Boy and before that, it had to be Love Actually. With such a solid cast, Nanny McPhee can’t help but deliver strong performanced across the board.  Plus, Emma Thompson is also responsible for the screenplay.  I’m sure that gives her a little more attachment as the main character and adds a little spark to what she’s doing.

nanny mcphee

While Nanny McPhee does have certain features very similar to Mary Poppins plot-wise and at times, feels a little like the cross-over of The Sound of Music with all those children also, it has its own little magic.  It is obvious that this movie is meant for children to teenagers perhaps and the lessons it delivers is great in terms of a family comedy.  Its a ton of fun and reinforces that a family being together means learning together.  Nanny McPhee may seem like she is teaching the children but she is also teaching the father valuable lessons on taking extra care to how he treats his role.  It may seem silly the simple things like going to bed and getting up when told in the beginning but its about discipline and respect, listening and being honest and accepting consequences.  All very relevant to children and grown-ups alike.

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

nanny mcphee returns

Director: Susanna White

Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Asa Butterfield, Rhys Ifans, Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor

Isabel is a young mother with three children living on a farm and trying to make ends meet while her husband is away at war.  Secretly having a massive debt at the casino, her brother in law wants to coax her into selling her half of the farm.  Except, she doesn’t want to despite the struggles.  When her sister sends over two cousins because of the war situation getting more serious in the big city, she ends up having to take care of two more children, and extremely spoiled rich brats on top of that.  It is at this moment that Nanny McPhee shows up and offers to help her with teaching 5 lessons (side note: not the same as last time).

nanny mcphee returns

Nanny McPhee Returns is a great addition to this series.  The cast still retains to be incredibly strong.  Emma Thompson comes back as Nanny McPhee and she just does it so perfectly.  Then we have an even younger Asa Butterfield (because he’s still pretty young right now) in the lead boy among the children.  Along with that, mom is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and there’s ever a small role for Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor.  Nanny McPhee definitely returns with the same charm but this time, it adds a lot more goof.  At times, it felt a little ridiculous but for the most part, I was able to not mind it too much.

nanny mcphee returns

The best part, other than the fun characters, is really that learning the 5 lessons the Nanny McPhee has to teach never feels strained.  If anything, this time, the lessons were more straightforward and even more relevant than the last time.  We in the land of courage, bravery, imagination, taking leaps of faith, and more.  Like I said, relevant with what they are dealing with and with a contrast of children from different backgrounds, the learning is even more substantial.

Nanny McPhee Returns is a very fun sequel.  With lots of lovable characters and an outstanding cast even to its supporting and cameo characters.  Its magical and adventurous even between some of the unnecessary goofiness that they add in this time around.

Its a pity that Nanny McPhee only has two movies in this series. It would be a fun one to keep going.  You can always argue that Mary Poppins is better and she is in fact irreplaceable but Nanny McPhee has her own little charm and its just so relevant no matter when you watch it.  Its a ton of family fun and very much worth your time. 🙂

Have you seen either of these Nanny McPhee movies? Any thoughts?

Netflix A-Z heads into a week of Horror before stepping aside for the Halloween Marathon.  
What O horror takes the spot? Any guesses?

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Mamma Mia! (2008)

There is a magic with musicals that I love.  A lot of times, they are cheesy and stupid, even done in a very incomplete way where it either turns into a concert or the story doesn’t flow well or whatnot.  From the first time I’ve seen Mamma Mia!, I just love it.  Does it mean that its a great movie objectively? I’m not that sure…

mamma mia posterDirector: Phyllida Lloyd

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Christina Baranski, Dominic Cooper

On a beautiful Greek island, we enter into the story of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) who sends 3 invitations out to 3 unknown men who could possibly be her father to come to her wedding with Sky (Dominic Cooper) as an invite from her mother Donna (Meryl Streep).  Her mother has never mentioned about her father but she firmly believes that knowing her father will help her find herself.  She also thought that she’s be able to determine them at first glance.  When all three possible fathers, Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgard), Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry Bright (Colin Firth) show up, she realizes its harder than she thought to know and while hiding them as a “surprise” for her mother, she seeks the help of her best friends.  In the meantime, Donna finds out and tries to get them off the island with the help of her two best friends, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christina Baranski).  All the plot is set to the tune of ABBA hits!

mamma mia sam bill harry sophie

Let me just get one thing straight.  If you are sitting down to ANY musical, you should be in this because you enjoy this sort of thing, especially the cheesy, silly renditions.  Mamma Mia is an adaptation of the stage musical.  Its meant to be fun and mildly enjoyable and entertaining.  You really have to be ready to embrace that in order to enjoy it.  The over exaggerated expressions, the constant emerging into music and this case very good original music and to just close your mind off and enjoy the familiar actors and actresses prancing and dancing on the screen.

mamma mia sophie donna

I buy these things fully and thoroughly and thats why I like most musicals.  Mamma Mia is one that I go to when I’m feeling sick or down.  Why? Because how can you not tap your feet to any of the ABBA tunes.  Even if its not ABBA doing them and this cast isn’t exactly the best in singing.  Most of the songs is energetic and entertaining to watch.  If you hate everything else, how can you resist moving to Dancing Queen? I know I can’t!

mamma mia dancing queen

What I am starting to realize is that in any movie that Meryl Streep is in, even if it doesn’t do great overall, you can expect it to be enjoyable miles more than it is just because of Meryl Streep.  This one is no exception.  However, there is one highlight of this one.  Thats Pierce Brosnan not being James Bond ;).  He’s singing desperate love songs, getting nostalgic and shimmying away with silly dance moves.  Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond did not ever do that in my recollection.  Plus, his singing isn’t all that great but there was something charming as always about watching Brosnan get in the groove.  Along with Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth, the 3 men had some pretty funny moments.  Everyone was in threes and so was Donna and the Dynamos.  On that note,  Tanya and Rosie was hilarious characters.

Film Title: Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! is one of my absolutely favorite musicals to watch.  It makes me feel good and in the whole dancing and singing mood.  Happy times! Its not a masterpiece of course and the singing isn’t absolutely great but the cast do a great job doing what they do best to give us a nice mix of heartwarming, soul seeking, funny and silly moments throughout to make this an entertaining flick!

Do you like musicals? What is your favorite(s)?

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Movies every night, eh? Not sick of my reviews yet I hope! I’m trying to keep them assorted and last night I worked on the pile I had stacked on the side of my table and pulled up this romantic comedy Bridget Jones’s Diary.  I have never read the book of this.  Seems like there’s so many adaptations out there that I have actually read the source material.  This has Colin Firth and I love him 🙂 Plus it has Hugh Grant and he can be quite charming at times…Okay, let me get out of the swooning mode and to the review..

bridget jones`s diary poster 1Director: Sharon Maguire

Cast: Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent

Bridget Jones is a early 30s girl who hasn’t dated very much and works at a publishing company. Every year on her mother’s annual party, her mother tries to match her up with single men.  This year, she sets her up with a childhood companion (who she does not remember) and is a barrister called Mark Darcy (Colin Firth).  When he turns out to be a disagreeable and rude divorced man.  She leaves in despair and she decides to start a diary to document her resolutions where she vows to stop drinking, quit smoking and lose weight.  At this time, her charming but not very respectable boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) shows an interest in her and sends her some provocative emails (which she returns) and eventually they go out for a dinner date.  As they grow closer, she also learns that he is actually seeing a woman and is engaged to her.  Afterwards, she quits her job and starts working as a TV presenter and its at this time,  she seems to be noticing Mark around her social circles more and more frequently and secretly find him more attractive.  When Mark starts showing interest, Daniel also returns to show his affections as well.  Due to past issues, they both end up fighting for her affections.

This has most probably shot up to my top 10 favorite romantic comedies if I had a list of one.  Its funny, quirky, witty and at times silly British humor which I love mixed with a cute and silly romantic adventure.  This movie is a gem.  Its just so fun to watch and I found myself laughing and giggling and doing all these girly things throughout the movie.

bridget jones`s diary bridget

I`m not much of a Renee Zellweger fan.  I haven`t followed a lot of her movies but this role made me completely praise her. It looks that it would’ve taken a lot of courage to do this role.  Bridget is a role thats hard to do because she had to expose a lot of craziness. The character itself was a girl that would binge alcohol and smoke a lot, but at the same time she was somewhat of a ditz.  She was looking for a man who would just love her the way she was as an average girl.  Renee Zellweger did this amazingly.  She was funny, quirky and extremely likeable.  Her reactions and the things that she did was sometimes hilarious.  Her chemistry with both Hugh Grant’s Daniel and Colin Firth’s Mark was awesome. Plus, I felt connected with her character quickly into the movie. Thats always a good thing 🙂

bridget jones`s diary bridget daniel

I’m just going to start with Hugh Grant.  I like him a lot of roles however I’ve never really seen him as a guy who was all about fun.  He felt somewhat pretentious. I’m guessing his role needed that because he’s supposed to be somewhat of a person scared to commit to long-term however, he was also seeing two women at the same time.  Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant played off each other well and the chemistry was really fun to watch as they engaged into a more fun and sexual relationship.  However, we could see that he was the man that she first resolved to not date and hoped that he wasn’t like that.

bridget jones`s diary bridget mark

The chemistry between Colin Firth’s Mark and Bridget was different.  It was a building of emotions.  Things were slower as they got to know each other better.  Colin Firth is a charming actor as always.  He just plays the quiet and analytical character.  He’s a gentleman who doesn’t talk bad of others and somewhat holds in his feelings until they explode.  I guess Bridget is his exact opposite so he becomes attracted to her.  This is what makes the fight between him and Daniel is so much more hilarious. Funny thing though, is that I never quite understood why I’m so into Colin Firth’s characters.  He always looks so…serious, I guess, but I think its the way he emotes with his eyes.  Anyways, I love the man, just can’t pinpoint why.

I love this rom-com and highly recommend it.  Such a fun flick to watch packed with lots and lots of laughs.

Christmas Marathon: Love Actually (2003)

love actuallyLOVE ACTUALLY

Director: Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio or The Boat That Rocked)

Cast: Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Rowan Atkinson, Laura Linney

I’d like to start this off with the quote that starts off the movie because I find it best describes the whole concept of this movie.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

That is what this movie is about.  Love actually is all around us, especially in London.  It is promoted as the ultimate romantic comedy filled with separate stories from all the cast that we see in the beginning of the movie either in a wedding and the others in a funeral.  The wedding is for Peter and Juliet (Keira Knightley) and we see how it rolls into the story of unrequited love of Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) for Juliet.  This event brings together Jamie (Colin Firth) who we see ends up falling out of love with his cheating girlfriend and flying to France to spend his holidays where he meets a young Portuguese housekeeper, Aurelia.  At that same wedding, we also see Sarah (Laura Linney) who we get introduced to her not so secret crush to her co-worker, Karl and how sometimes you have to make choices for family that we love.  In her office, we see the relationship of her boss, Harry who is tempted to cheat with a younger employee while his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson) tries to rekindle their relationship and keep her own family together.  Her brother, the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) starts his position and meets his lovely “catering manager”, Nathalie.  The funeral however is where we get the shot of Karen who is there for Daniel (Liam Neeson) who has lost his wife and must take care of his stepson, Sam and help him get the love of his life who is a girl in school that will be going back to  America.  In the background, we have a old rock and roll singer, Billy Mack (Bill  Nighy) who tries to get top spot on the billboard.  Lots of love stories all twisted together is what makes up Love Actually.

Love Actually is one of those movies that I know is very awesome to watch, (however I forget during the year its awesomeness).  I love watching every minute of it because it makes me laugh and smile and then by the end, I get tears of joy because of all the sweet moments.  Here’s one of the especially sweet moments of Mark’s unrequited love for Juliet.  Of course, its only one of the many but I thought it was sweet and original.

The cast is just beautiful and charming and you start getting attached to all the love that is around during Christmas in this.  It consists of such a perfect group of actors and actresses that I adore like Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Liam Neeson.  On top of that, we also had a few cameos of Rowan Atkinson.  I love him in general and in this one, he’s just the spectacular even for that little moment he’s on screen.  Maybe some stories could’ve been more elaborate if there were less put together but I think the point is to show the simplicity of each situation, how love is just very simple and we can find it when and where we least expect it.  We’ll do things that we don’t expect ourselves to do for it.  So great concept and great little stories, I loved them all.  However, I found that the key to the success was the soundtrack that they put together to support everything that was happening.  Just listen and look at the beginning song that pops up at the wedding.

Its some fun stuff when you find that perfect song that gets the viewers moving.  Especially when another song had Hugh Grant dancing through his Prime Minister headquarters.  We had the hilarious Bill Nighy doing his best routine of laid back old rock and roll star and swearing here and there with “Christmas is All Around”. Then we have “All I Want for Christmas” also one of my favorite songs.  There’s just so much more.  This definitely enhances the movie.

I may forget about Love Actually and its awesomeness throughout the year but whenever I see it, it just makes me feel so good.  Acknowledging that love actually is everywhere and all around is something we all want to remember when Christmas and the holidays comes around.

Christmas Marathon: Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

A-Christmas-Carol-Blu-ray-DVDDISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009)

Directed: Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy, Polar Express, Cast Away)

Voices by: Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright

Based on the classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Robert Zemeckis both write and directs this full-length animation.  The story is about a man called Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) who is very uptight about his money and doesn’t care about the people around him, much less the ones who he sees regularly like his employee, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) or his nephew, Fred (Colin Firth).  On Christmas eve, he goes home and is visited by his former deceased business partner, Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman) burdened with heavy chains.  He tells him that these were from all that he had done while he was alive and that he would be visited by three ghosts: Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (all voiced by Jim Carrey).  These ghosts bring him to visit memories and visions that he has chosen to ignore and made him realize all his wants had lead him to his ignorance.

The first thing that pulled me to this movie was the idea that Jim Carrey does 7 different voices.  Four are from different stages in Scrooge’s  life: Young boy, Teenage, Middle Age and finally the one we see, as an elderly stingy man.  He also does the voices of the three ghosts.  Jim Carrey and his voice was what drew me to him originally when I first saw him in The Mask.  He does a decent job in that area for this movie.  I have no problem with it.  The voice work was pretty good actually.  I like Colin Firth a lot and his distinct voice was quite himself as Fred.  Gary Oldman did a great job with this one also.  I’ve never heard him doing voices in an animation.

The second aspect of this movie is that I truly love the story and it looked to be really visually stunning.  It did turn out to be quite detailed.  My boyfriend commented about the detail of the reactions and expressions.  The experience was definitely geared towards being seen in 3D, however, I have a normal Blu-ray so it had to do.  It seem had exciting moments.

However, this flick is probably not primarily geared towards young children.  It had a lot of spooky moments near the end.  Although they do try to balance it out with a lot of funny moments to lighten the mood up.  I’m do enjoy this movie a lot.  Its not my absolutely favorite but whats Christmas without a little bit of Christmas carol, right?

There is a CRAZY amount of Christmas Carol adaptations both in animations, or themed like Disney’s, for example, and in real life. Which ones have you seen? Are there some you enjoy more than the others? I heard Muppet’s Christmas Carol is pretty good also.