NANNY DIARIES: Scarlett's Show
THE NANNY DIARIES (social comedy)
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Nicholas Reese Art, Paul Giamatti, Donna Murphy, Alicia Keys and Chris Evans
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (Out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? This is a satirical comedy on rick folks who leave the upbringing of their children to young nanies. It is based on the 2002 novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the husband-and-wife team behind 'American Splendor'.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) is a graduate from New York University who is hunting for a job. Her mother (Donna Murphy) wants her to get a job at an accounting firm but when she saves a five-year-old boy, Grayer (Nicholas Reese Art), from being run over, Grayer's socialite mother, Mrs X (Laura Linney), offers Annie a job as her son's nanny. The pay is good and the accommodations are free, so Annie accepts. While she warms up quickly to the boy and is attracted to the guy upstairs (Chris Evans), working for Mrs X and her husband (Paul Giamatti) proves to be a bit of a problem.
HITS & MISSES: 'The Nanny Diaries' looks at childcare in New York's upper crust the same way as "The Devil Wears Prada' looked at the fashion Industry. Both rely on exaggerated plotting to illustrate their satire and both use young and naïve girls as protagonists. Each has its own female villain too. Laura Linney accomplishes what Meryl Streep did in 'Devil Wears Prada' - as a woman who prefers to delve into useless social pursuits instead of bonding with her child. However, while she lacks the complexity and ferocity of Meryl Streep's character, she makes up for it with a more realistic portrayal.
Also, Johansson is a lot more effective than Anne Hathaway's bright-eyed rookie fashionista. And yes, she is the main lure of the show. Her voiceover comments help strengthen the message about negligent parents and put things in perspective. However, this one loses out to 'Prada' in its narrative. It is less dramatic and certain subplots seem over contrived. Annie's involvement in her nanny career is questionable and her romantic entanglement with her 'Harvard Hottie' is rather lame. The ending is unsatisfactory.
THE LOWDOWN: 'Nanny Diaries' was released in 2007. It took some time to get here and it should please Johansson fans.