The Nanny Diaries (2007)

Directors – Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini

Writers – Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini

Director of Photography – Terry Stacey

Editor – Robert Pulcini

Music – Mark Suozzo

Producers – Richard N. Gladstein & Dany Wolf

The Weinstein Company. 106 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language.

STARRING: Scarlett Johansson (Annie Braddock), Chris Evans (Harvard Hottie), Laura Linney (Mrs. X), Alicia Keys (Lynette), Donna Murphy (Judy Braddock), Nicholas Art (Grayer) and Paul Giamatti (Mr. X).

Co-Directors and Screenwriters Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini bring Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus’ best-selling novel to the big screen with mixed results.

The film begins with a lot of promise using a visually creative, if slightly less-than-original exploration of late 20th/early 21st century New York through the lens of an anthropologist in a natural history museum. Berman and Pulcini, the duo behind the 2003 Harvey Pekar biopic American Splendor, are no strangers to unusual visuals. Unfortunately, not much is done with this interesting setup and consequently, the occasional divergence throughout the film into the visual metaphor seems shoehorned into the movie instead of being a natural fit.

Scarlett Johansson stars in this straightforward tale of a recent college graduate who just doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. Feeling desperate to look good to her hard-working mother, Johansson’s Annie takes a job as a nanny for Laura Linney’s Mrs. X, a upper-class Manhattanite mom of one.

At first, the job seems like the perfect opportunity to make some good money while she takes some time to plan her future, Annie quickly discovers life as a nanny is no walk in the park. Mrs. X constantly needs her to take care of her son Grayer, who in turn wishes nothing more than to spend some time with his mother.

By the time Mr. X (Paul Giamatti, as a cut-throat in business and family affairs) arrives in the story with his office mistress, Annie is already caught in between the fractures and friction of this elite family and she has already broken the cardinal rule of the nanny trade: falling in love with her ward.

From there nothing happens in this film that any regular moviegoer hasn’t seen before or will take them by surprise. A few subplots including an attractive neighbor (Chris Evans), Annie’s best friend (Pop/R&B singer Alicia Keys) and Annie’s mom (Donna Murphy) round out the proceedings and add variety.

A few unnecessary big nods to Mary Poppins do nothing other than serve to remind the viewer that better films covering similar themes exist and a few sloppy edits take the viewer right out of the story.

The Nanny Diaries is not a complete waste of time, but neither is it a step forward for the filmmakers who shined so brightly with American Splendor. If you must, read the book, but don’t feel bad topass on the movie.

Darryl A. Armstrong

4 thoughts on “The Nanny Diaries (2007)”

  1. That’s too bad, because in the previews it looked like it was super funny. Now, maybe I’ll watch it and maybe I won’t

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