Australian Council on Children and the Media

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 10 (Violence, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang
  • a review of Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 April 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 5-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children over 10 OK for this age group

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 and the Big Bang
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, directed by Susanna White, is a sequel to the successful 2005 “Nanny McPhee”, which was based on Christianna Brand’s “Nurse Matilda” books.  This time, the story is set in the war-torn countryside of 1940s England.  The film opens to scenes of domestic chaos as a mother tries to balance running a small farm, working in a store and raising three children while her husband is away at war.  Just as the harried mum (Maggie Gyllenhaal) reaches the end of her tether, the incredibly ugly Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) appears at her door offering to provide child-management assistance. 

Although initially suspicious of the unexpected guest, the Green children (Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield and Lil Woods) and their visiting cousins Cyril (Eros Vlahos) and Celia (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) soon come to respect and like this unconventional woman. 

Other characters in the film are Mrs. Docherty (Maggie Smith), the doddery owner of the village store where Isabel Green works; Mr. Docherty (Sam Kelly), her husband, who is the volunteer bomb-raid warden; Phil Green (Rhys Ifans), Isabel’s scheming brother; and two female hit-women, Miss Topsey (Sinead Matthews) and Miss Turvey (Katy Brand), who seek to retrieve unpaid gambling debts from Phil Green.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Separation from a parent; family breakdown; war and death.

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 a great deal of physical and verbal violence in this movie including:

  • children yelling at one another
  • adults yelling at children;
  • children hitting and slapping one another
  • girls pulling each other’s hair
  • boys trying to choke one another
  • children inflicting harm on themselves, such as pulling their own hair, and banging their heads on walls and floors
  • a girl repeatedly slams another girl’s head into the floor
  • a young boy wanders around a room smashing objects with a cricket bat
  • A chauffeur pulls a screaming girl out of a car by her feet and then falls into a muddy pool of water
  • A man is grabbed around the neck by two women and pulled through a hedge.

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 scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • A short scene when the ordinary objects within a shop (such as cupboards, utensils and grocery items) begin moving by themselves and whispering the phrase, “ the person you need is Nanny McPhee”
  • Nanny McPhee is occasionally depicted in a mysterious, almost sinister, manner that may be frightening to some children.
  • In one scene, the sky is filled with black clouds and an eerie, whistling wind blows through plants, bushes and trees.  At the height of the unearthly wind storm, the phrase, “the person you need is Nanny McPhee” is again heard

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 group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned violent scenes and scary images and also the following scenes:

  • A man burns his hand on a cooking range
  • A man is threatened several times by two women who warn that they will remove his kidneys or scrape his innards out and stuff him.  Throughout these episodes, the male victim becomes increasingly intimidated and fearful.  While intended to provide some black comedy for older audiences, these scenes could be unsettling for young viewers

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.

In addition to some of the above-mentioned violent scenes, there is one scene in this movie that could scare or disturb younger children in this age group:

  • An unexploded bomb lands in the middle of a barley field and a group of children try to defuse it.

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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • passionate kissing

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There are some mild coarse language and insults in this movie, including:

  • Blinkin’;
  • You parasitic person;
  • They die;
  • I’m going to mash you
  • We’re going to stuff you and scoop out your insides

In a nutshell

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is a fast-paced comedy that is likely to appeal to audiences of all ages.  While initially depicting a great deal of violence between children, the film goes on to promote a strong message about the need to learn how to work together with others, rather than simply fight.  Despite the obvious commercial motivation behind creating a Nanny McPhee sequel, the movie’s emphasis on family and community loyalty is delivered with sincerity and warmth.  The young cast members provide particularly convincing performances. 

However, viewed from a more critical perspective, this movie can also be seen to promote a sub-theme of enforced obedience through coercion and fear. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • sharing
  • helping one another
  • faith
  • loyalty
  • courage

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