Australian Council on Children and the Media

Nanny McPhee

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Themes, Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Nanny McPhee
  • a review of Nanny McPhee completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 January 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the themes and intensity of some scenes, this movie is not recommended for children under the age of eight.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance is recommended for children between the ages of eight and thirteen.
Children aged 13-15 Children over the age of 13 could see this film with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Nanny McPhee
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Mr Brown (Colin Firth), an impoverished undertaker, is having a terrible time trying to get a Nanny for his seven horribly behaved, motherless, children. Only desiring the attention of their father, the children are determined to drive away all nannies and have succeeded in getting rid of seventeen when Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives on the scene. Using a form of magic or witchcraft she is able to gain control where others have failed, and slowly begins to restore order to the household.

Unfortunately great aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury), after seeing the outrageous behaviour of the children, issues an ultimatum stating that the desperately needed allowance that she gives the family, will be stopped unless Mr Brown remarries within the month. To refuse this would mean that they would lose everything, including each other, and to agree would mean marrying the trampish widow Mrs. Quickly (Celia Imrie).

Employing the same means used to drive away the nannies, the children are determined to get rid of Mrs Quickly too, regardless of the consequences, and at the same time find a suitable replacement.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • the very first scene shows a wild-eyed woman running away from a house screaming “They’ve eaten the baby!” Children are then shown eating what appear to be chicken drumsticks with baby booties on them. The baby is found lying in a pot of cooked vegetables.
  • one child hits the cook over the head with a heavy frying pan.
  • the children tie up and gag the cook and nearly blow her up with home made explosives.
  • one child is about to catapult the baby into a pot of boiling water and is stopped by Nanny McPhee just in the nick of time.
  • Mr Brown kicks one of the children away from a chair.
  • a sharp arrow is placed on a cushion for Mrs. Quickly to sit on. Mr Brown takes it away before she does.
  • Mrs Quickly maliciously breaks the baby’s rattle, which is the only thing that the children have left from their mother.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scary scenes in this movie including:

  • when Nanny McPhee mysteriously arrives at the Brown residence it is a dark and stormy night. Both Mr Brown and the maid are very apprehensive about opening the door
  • the first impressions of Nanny McPhee are quite alarming.
  • Aunt Adelaide decides to take one of the children away to live with her. Mr. Brown thinks that she has taken Chrissie, his second youngest and is in a devastated panic as he chases after the carriage trying to get her back. There are an intense couple of moments before he and Chrissie are reunited and he realises that all of his children are safe and sound and that his aunt has accidentally taken the young scullery maid instead.
  • one of the children makes a trip up to Nanny McPhee’s room to ask for her help and must pass through a creepy, long corridor full of spooky shadows and eerie noises. No one answers when he knocks on the door and moments later the door opens by itself to reveal the strangeness of her room. The suspense of this scene could disturb some young children.
  • the scenes where witchcraft is used could confuse and distress young viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age bracket, could also be concerned by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some sensitive children, and / or younger children in this age bracket, could be concerned by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

There is nothing in the film that would frighten children over the age of thirteen.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, mostly when Mrs Quickly talks about her “passions” in relation to men, and referring to the “passions” Mr. Brown must have in relation to women.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no outright nudity in this movie, although Mrs. Quickly wears very low cut dresses that expose most of her breasts, and takes every opportunity to accentuate this, especially if Mr Brown is around.

There are a number of scenes in which Mr Brown has to throw himself at Mrs Quickly in order to save her from the pranks his children are playing. As a result, he often winds up lying on top of her or with his face in her bosom; this only further ignites Mrs Quickly’s passions.

Use of substances

Mrs Quickly and her friend often drink wine.

Coarse language

The film contains no coarse language, but some name-calling, including ‘Shut up’ and words such as poop, bum and bosom.

In a nutshell

The movie’s main message is not to be deceived by first impressions, as those that may at first appear truly hideous may be beautiful inside, and likewise those that appear to be the most uneducated may in fact have the most to offer. The movie provides parents with the opportunity to discuss the importance of having rules and of accepting responsibility for your own actions.

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