2006-02-22 / Book Review

Gazette on film movie reviews

‘Nanny McPhee’ Delights By Rose A. Whitney

“Nanny McPhee” is a whimsical, magical

fable which will delight both children and adults.

Recently widowed, Cedric Brown (Colin Firth), a mortician in a small English village, is the harried and overwhelmed father of seven unruly children ranging in age from about one to 14. Feeling the recent loss of their mother and their father’s resulting emotional distance from them, they have become completely out of control. In an attempt to get the attention they need, they refuse to respond to any adult direction. The children have just caused their 17th nanny to quit her job. Their father can’t even get into the office of a local nanny agency, Nannies of Distinction, because of the family’s disastrous history.

Cedric is losing all hope of finding help for his family when Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) mysteriously appears at his door. Dressed completely in black and with a large bulbous nose, two unsightly moles, one protruding front tooth and carrying a crooked walking stick, she describes herself as a “government nanny” sent to care for extremely illbehaved children and immediately tackles the job. As soon as she walks in the house, she finds the children wreaking havoc in the kitchen. Nanny McPhee uses her magic walking stick to undo the damage, setting the stage for her star turn as the ruler of the nursery.

The children soon learn that it is impossible to outsmart Nanny McPhee. They pretend to be suffering from the measles but suddenly, miraculously recover after she agrees to their self-diagnosis and offers them a disgusting tarlike liquid composed of potato skins and broth as medicine.

Gradually, the children begin to respond to Nanny McPhee, first learning to say “please” and “thank you”, and eventually obeying directions to go to bed, get up, get dressed, listen and do exactly as they are told—Nanny McPhee's five most important rules for children. The children aren’t the only ones undergoing a transformation. As they learn each of these rules, Nanny McPhee's facial flaws gradually disappear and her appearance improves.

Cedric Brown is very pleased with his children’s progress, but is faced with another dilemma when his tyrannical Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) comes for a visit. She is appalled at the disorganization of the household and insists upon adopting one of the children, who she will then send to boarding school. Mr. Brown is asked to choose a child for her, but refuses. The children concoct a plan (which includes the appearance of a dancing donkey) to accidentally break Aunt Adelaide’s glasses and have Evangeline (Kelly MacDonald), their scullery maid, pose as the selected child.

A more serious crisis looms when Aunt Adelaide also explains that unless Cedric remarries immediately, she will not continue to help support the family. If that happens, Cedric would be forced to send the children to an orphanage or workhouse. He sets out to ask Selma Quickly, a scheming, manipulative local widow, to marry him. Once again, the children save the day by devising a scheme to scare away Mrs. Quickly. Ultimately, Cedric marries Evangeline who, thanks to the unsuspecting Aunt Adelaide and her boarding school, has been transformed into a well educated, socially acceptable young lady, thus guaranteeing the proverbial happy ending.

‘Final Destination–3’ BY DIANA SANDERS

Many people believe that a sequel can never top the original. While “Final Destination 2” seemed to go the original “Final Destination “one better, it never really surpassed the first film in the series. It isn’t surprising, then, that the franchise teen horror flick that begins with a panicked teen who has a premonition of an oncoming tragedy and in turn saves a few lives before the actual disaster, continues in “Final Destination 3” with only slight alterations.

FD1 brought about the clever concept of inescapable fate as a few teens on a class trip to France got off the plane when a student panicked after having a premonition of a crash, which came true when the plane crashed on takeoff. FD2 brought back the excitement of the first film with a freeway pileup, a survivor from the first movie and impressive screenplay. FD3 follows the same concept, but falls slightly short of the previous films.

The movie stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Wendy, a high school senior on a class trip, this time to a fun fair, who has a premonition that the roller coaster she is about to board will come off its tracks and send everyone to die. She demands to get off and some of her friends follow her. The roller coaster premonition then predictably comes true. The teens who “cheated death” then begin to die in the order they would have, had they remained on the ride. Wendy, along with Ryan (Kevin Fischer), then discovers that pictures that Wendy took during the fun fair are clues to the upcoming deaths.

Writers James Wong and Glen Morgan, who directed the original but not FD2, cleverly chose the calamities that would strike each of the individuals who almost escaped their inevitable deaths, despite the weak writing and scenes. Targeting the teenage market, this sequel will leave some teens thinking twice before heading to the tanning salon, the gym or even the nearest drive-through. The settings, along with the cast of unknowns, make the blood-soaked deaths a little believable but the various characters’ ends are still incredibly brutal. After all, in this film, it is not who dies but how they die. The chain reaction occurrences resulting in the beheading of one character and roasting of another, along with other freak executions, escalates to bloodshed that cannot be topped.

Regardless of the plot concept that has remained the same throughout the three films, the “Final Destination” series differs from the everyday teen slasher flick in that, the cast is not running away from a psycho killer in a mask or with a hook. Instead, they are fighting death itself, a force that does not like to be defied. In addition, the films even pose the question of whether or not death does in fact have a plan, and what happens if that plan is toyed with.

The film ends in a subway train, in which Winstead has yet another premonition. The viewer is left wondering if the survivors do, in fact, die or whether the ending was just the beginning of another shaky sequel.

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