Back to Metroland's Home Page!
 Site Search
   Search Metroland.Net
 Classifieds
   View Classified Ads
   Place a Classified Ad
 Personals
   Online Personals
   Place A Print Ad
 Columns & Opinions
   The Simple Life
   Comment
   Looking Up
   Reckonings
   Opinion
   Myth America
   Letters
   Rapp On This
 News & Features
   Newsfront
   Features
   What a Week
   Loose Ends
 Lifestyles
   This Week's Review
   The Dining Guide
   Leftovers
   Scenery
   Tech Life
 Cinema & Video
   Weekly Reviews
   The Movie Schedule
 Music
   Listen Here
   Live
   Recordings
   Noteworthy
 Arts
   Theater
   Dance
   Art
   Classical
   Books
   Art Murmur
 Calendar
   Night & Day
   Event Listings
 AccuWeather
 About Metroland
   Where We Are
   Who We Are
   What We Do
   Work For Us
   Place An Ad

Rich people suck: Linney in The Nanny Diaries.

The Devil Wears Short Pants

By Shawn Stone

The Nanny Diaries

Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

Just what we need at the end of the summer movie season, a dreary comedy about annoying—or worse—people. The Nanny Diaries is the story of neophyte nanny Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson), and her wretched job caring for obnoxious 5-year-old Grayer X (Nicholas Reese Art) and his horrible mother, Mrs. X (Laura Linney).

No, the “Xs” are not black Muslims. A perfectly reasonable literary device has been clumsily transposed from the source material—not the last clumsy move the directors make.

Let’s go back to the story. How does Annie become Nanny? She saves the brat from getting run over by one of those annoying (and now illegal) Segways in Central Park. Mrs. X’s eyes immediately light up: Currently nanny-less, she knows child-care skill when she sees it.

How’s that for a sledgehammer opener? Nanny will “save” Grayer from his awful family. Terrific. Of course, the brat will help Nanny save herself, too. How touching. Who will save the audience, that’s what I’d like to know.

It’s hard to decide where to begin to pick this one apart. The self-consciously “whimsical” direction, with its (failed) Terry Gilliam-esque fantasy sequences? The all-over-the-place emotional tone? The by-the-numbers plotting? The fact that it would take an actress with a lot more skill than Johansson to make this paper-thin character interesting? Meh: I won’t waste any more of your valuable reading time than necessary.

The basic problem with The Nanny Diaries is how badly it wants to be The Devil Wears Prada. Unfortunately, Nanny is a nitwit, and the film’s monster, Mrs. X, is completely unsympathetic. At least Meryl Streep’s nightmarish, Wintour-esque arbiter of fashion was a genius at what she did; Mrs. X is just contemptible—and Linney is too good an actress to play her any other way. Oh, and they even recycle the weary device of the Black Friend: Anne Hathaway had Traci Thoms in Prada, so Johansson’s pal here is Alicia Keys.

The plot of the popular novel by a couple of ex-nannies has also been reworked by the filmmakers to transform Nanny from a financially struggling NYU senior to an immature recent grad with tedious self-esteem issues. Only God, or producer Harvey Weinstein, knows why—but the fact that Nanny’s parents are also replaced with a single mom provides a clue. The filmmakers want to say something about feminism. Unfortunately, they fail as miserably at this as they do at simply providing entertainment.


Send A Letter to Our Editor
Back Home
   
 
 
Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.