out of Five
Running time: 105
Berman and Pulcini's comedy drama isn't as funny or as clever as it thinks it is, but it remains watchable thanks to strong performances from Laura Linney and Scarlett Johansson.
What's it all about?
Scarlett Johansson stars as New Jersey college graduate Annie Braddock, who comes to New York for a job interview but winds up accepting a job as an Upper West Side nanny when she bumps into five-year-old Grayer (Nicholas Reese Art) and his well-to-do, desperately-in-need-of-a-nanny mother, Mrs X (Laura Linney). Annie naively thinks she can use her new job to indulge her anthropological leanings and maybe learn something about herself along the way, but she gets more than she bargained for when Mrs X turns out to be exceptionally demanding and treats her more like a servant than a nanny.
However, just as Annie decides she's ready to quit, she's confronted with two reasons to stay. First, it becomes clear that Grayer has developed a strong attachment to her, and second, the cute guy upstairs (Chris Evans) keeps giving her the eye.
Johansson is her usual perky, likeable self and she has good chemistry with both Chris Evans and Alicia Keys (as her best friend). Laura Linney can do this sort of thing in her sleep and she's as good as you'd expect, but the script doesn't really do her any favours and her climactic redemption doesn't ring true as a result.
The Nanny Diaries is like a less aspirational version of The Devil Wears Prada, only without the wit and only about a quarter of the charm. Similarly, the tedious anthropology metaphor quickly becomes over-used and the Mary Poppins references don't work at all.
The film's biggest problem is that it's neither as funny or as clever as it thinks it is. It also misses the chance to make any worthwhile social comment, beyond the fact that treating nannies like second class citizens is bad, mmkay?
The Nanny Diaries remains watchable thanks to Johansson and Linney's performances, but it's nowhere near as good as it could have been.
The Nanny Diaries (12A)