I don’t know what possessed us to see this in the theater (other than the trailer’s hilarious quips!) but I can still vaguely remember seeing it on the big-screen and being disappointed in some of the directions the script went. Now that I’m an adult, I look at the movie differently. It's more "fluff" than substance boasting a cute cast – plus there is the addition of Captain America! Could anything be better?
In the Upper East Side of New York, Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) is about to discover who she really is. Twenty-one and fresh out of college with a business degree, she’s confused as to what comes next. If Annie’s mom has her way, a career is about to be launched in the business world but Annie is drawn to the freedom of anthropology. One disastrous interview later and fate leads her directly into the world of Mrs. X. (Laura Linney), a wealthy Upper East Side mother who is desperate for a nanny. The pay is impressive and Annie wants time to consider her options but she didn’t realize just how stressful that could be. First off her little charge Grayer (Nicholas Art) is a brat who ‘hates’ her, secondly the interest her employer Mr. X (Paul Giametti) has for her becomes more than professional. Needless to say, the nanny’s juggling act just got more complicated.
As a comedy that gives us a glimpse into a nannies life – even thinking of its most exaggerated instance, this does have some genuine wholesome comedy with several surprisingly poignant moments. Staging and filming is unexpectedly different – even taking up a quirky stance at times. Playing up Annie’s uncertain, “dreamy” personality, she is swept up with a red umbrella during her most contemplative moments which is also likely a nod to the classic Mary Poppins film while sequences feature museum wax statues as her narration imagines different scenarios her life could take. It’s a unique thing but doesn’t always “work” for the film. Then Annie’s narration is read as if it were written in diary form so she keeps a distance from everyone, nicknaming their character as a way of remaining aloof. Fortunately the former scenes happen only in the beginning and again at the end whereas the narration could be more distracting though the middle portions seem to even out to a normal balance.
Counter-acting any odd snags is its cute storyline and decent acting, both of which make this a little more entertaining despite its disappointing elements. Nicholas Art is a cute child actor and is really quite good as Grayer; he plays the role with the talent of a more experienced actor. In particular his last scene with Annie displays that; it will bring tears to your eyes. Though she’s never been an actress I’ve loved, Scarlett Johansson plays a cutesy character and we come to love her clumsy Annie. Then there is the casting of Chris Evans who plays “Harvard Hottie” (a name very appropriate *wink*); he and Scarlett have enough sparks between them especially considering how they first meet under rather humorous circumstances (well, for the viewer), and that theme is continued in each conversation. Memorable scenes happen between Nicholas and Scarlett; the well-written relationship is probably the best aspect of the whole movie. (Another particularly poignant scene comes about ten minutes before the film ends and involves a teddy bear confrontation, of all things.)
Despite its flaws The Nanny Diaries really is quite enjoyable – even with its bittersweet end. But, by the end lessons are learned that can’t be bought with any amount of money.
(MPAA rating is PG13. Parental Concerns: One minor character is a party girl, and there is social drinking. One or two homosexual jokes are bantered about and still another scene at a bar with a table of guys includes some sexual innuendos as well as a use of the F-word. Uses of sh*t, he*l, a** and other minor profanities make it into the film. Annie’s pants get pulled down exposing her underwear [comically]; it’s implied one couple sleep together. A man is having an affair, we briefly see him in his office with a woman, and he touches another woman at her hip only to be rejected.)