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The Nanny Diaries: Hugely Disappointing

Having enjoyed the delightful book, The Nanny Diaries movie was a massive disappointment. Overall it feels empty, frantically rushed, and insubstantial. The book versions of things are often better than the movie versions, but in this case, it's not quite worth it to bother with the movie at all.

I, along with many of you, had some reservations about Scarlett Johansson playing the main character in The Nanny Diaries, and it appears these anxieties were not ill-founded. In this performance, she's flat and seemingly bored with the role herself. She plays Annie, a recent college graduate who is looking for work so she can move out of her mother's house and fulfill her mother's ambitious dreams for her. Yet her degree in anthropology doesn't leave a ton of options, so she randomly decides to nanny a child on the Upper East Side — but not tell her mom about it. There's more, of course (though not much more), so

Annie narrates the film as though she's writing an application essay for grad school, so at some point she decides to treat her story as a case study, of sorts, and says that everyone referred to her as "Nanny" instead of her real name. In the book, Nanny really likes kids and has experience with them so it makes sense that the discerning Mrs. X would be sort of a stickler about Nanny's background and resume. In the film, however, Mrs. X has exceedingly high expectations about everything else in her world, though the fact that all Annie knows about babysitting is what she "learned from the movies" doesn't faze her.

So, Annie moves into the Xs' apartment and becomes the nanny to their son Grayer. Soon, a cute guy who lives in the building becomes interested in her, though she seems to think their economic backgrounds are way too different to allow any kind of relationship. In the end, Annie learns a bit about life, herself, kids and rich people.

Laura Linney as Mrs. X is truly the brightest spot in the whole movie. She's so rigid, cold and misguided you can't help but hate and fear her. Yet the humanity that Linney brings to everything she does causes us to actually pity Mrs. X as well. She almost makes the movie worth watching. Almost.

As for the script, everything in it feels forced and completely rushed. One moment the little boy hates Annie's (Nanny's) guts, and in the blink of an eye he's her best-best friend. Not that kids aren't fickle sometimes, but everything in the movie comes about that quickly and easily. Like her unlikely relationship with the cute guy who she rather cruelly and out of nowhere insists was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth. His instantaneous obsession with Annie seems weird and stalkerish.

It all just feels bizarrely disjointed and frustrating. There's even a trippy dream section in which Annie grabs hold of a red umbrella and drifts away from her stern mother and a whole bunch of people in suits representing the rat race. You know when people tell you about their dreams, and it's not that interesting to you? This is just like that.

Alicia Keys is perfectly fine as Annie's best buddy who rarely ventures above 14th Street (because, you know, she's so real), and is basically propped up as Annie's one thread connecting her to her former hip and cool life. Yet Johansson herself seems empty, distracted and emotionless. Like a robot, but worse. Rosie the robot maid on "The Jetsons" had more passion in her metal claw than Scarjo has in her whole being in this film. Nanny is supposed to be the beating heart of this story, but instead it's like there's no pulse.

Join The Conversation
sugarginger sugarginger 9 years
This is often happen with a movie adapted from a novel/book. The same way goes to Harry Potter. For people who already read the book, the movie would be a big disappointment, but for some people who haven't read it, like me, the movie is quite entertaining.
laura1867 laura1867 10 years
I loved this book so much. I actually laughed out loud many times. Too bad the movie wasn't as funny.
em1282 em1282 10 years
Just saw this, and I have to agree...disappointing. Scarlett needs some emotion in her voice/face to really do a better job with most of her roles, imo.
krisrenjen krisrenjen 10 years
I worked as a "nanny" (although I referred to myself as an au pair *LOL* I liked the book, and could relate to a lot of it; my Mrs.X lived on Central Park West, instead of the Upper East Side, but otherwise it was a very similar story. I don't think I want to see the movie, based on all the reviews. Maybe when it's released to cable. I like Scarlet, but it doesn't seem like her kind of role.
mairay mairay 10 years
They should just make it straight to video if it's that awful. ScarJo is as dull as a rock. I don't know what's the fuss about her. And maybe they should re-write the script since the book was great.
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
i didn't finish the book because it was so predictable and boring and have no intentions (nor have i ever) of watching this film - but i wanted to comment on how much i like the top scarlett is wearing in the picture above.
haydee haydee 10 years
I guess I'll just wait for this one on DVD
jjuicyy jjuicyy 10 years
ouch, harsh. i was still convinced id like it up until you mentioned the dream sequence i hate those. scarlett has definitely had hit movies though....lost in translation, girl with a pearl earring..wasnt her fault this movie bombed
LeninaCrowne LeninaCrowne 10 years
i saw it too and i didnt really like it but i dont think it's all scarlett's fault. the whole movie just seems a bit flat and i think all the characters seem one dimensional which is a result of the terrible directing and script. i think the actors try to do the best they can with what theyve got.
bonbonfay bonbonfay 10 years
Saw it today at a $5 afternoon show with a girlfriend and I thought it was really cute! ScarJo didn't do as poor of a job as I thought and the ending was much better in the movie...more of a resolution. I actually would recommend it with a group of girlfriends...thought it was endearing and relaxing...just what I needed!
clepiau clepiau 10 years
Bummer. I wasn't a nanny when I read the book, but I have been for the past several years so I was really looking forward to the movie and seeing how "real" it is. I hate Scarlett, though, so even if the suckiness isn't really her fault, I'm going to take a certain amount of pleasure in one of her projects sucking. Even if I actually wanted this particular one to be good. And I completely agree that this is how I felt about The Devil Wears Prada. I think that Hollywood assumes that if the book was a ginormous hit they don't really have to make an effort with the movie. Throw in a hot, young starlet and a couple of designer outfits and voila! Too bad they're almost always wrong.
junebrug junebrug 10 years
That's too bad, this is one I was looking forward to seeing. I'll probably check it out anyway, but I'll certainly lower my expectations.
ispyemo ispyemo 10 years
good review. it kinda sucks that it was awful. i almost saw it on a whim yesterday. glad i didnt. maybe ill check it out on dvd.
doucettr doucettr 10 years
Anne Hathaway would have been a better Nanny. I envisioned her while reading the book. and was suprised and upset when Paul Giametti was casted as Mr. X...... He's a great actor, but not what I call a hot upper east side executive adulterer.
prostudent prostudent 10 years
Salon gave this a good review I am Surprised buzz didn't like it.
Lippy Lippy 10 years
well, scarlett is kind of flat in a lot of movies
SexyNeverLeft78 SexyNeverLeft78 10 years
Loved the book, but knew it was going to bomb from the moment the studio pushed back the release. Even ScarJo couldn't save this mess
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 10 years
I was looking forward to seeing this. Now I'm going to spend my money on the book instead.
Trixie441 Trixie441 10 years
I'm not surprised, Scarjo is an awful the few movies I saw her in last year...she's terrible and I am not sure what all the fuss is about with her acting ability, cause I don't think she really has any!
mrskrismendoza mrskrismendoza 10 years
She's not that good so I'm not surprised.
tiff58 tiff58 10 years
I did love the book, but as soon as I saw the previews I knew they were going to ruin it. I won't waste my money.
demeter demeter 10 years
I'm surprised it got two stars! This looks absolutely horrible.
girlfriday girlfriday 10 years
I was also not a big fan of the book. It was ok, but after a while, you wonder why she just doesn't get another job if it's so bad. She's obviously smart - there are lots of other ways to make the same amt of money in college for less difficulty. I feel like the Nanny Diaries is just one more in a string of books trying to copy "Bridget Jones' Diary" and "Sex and the City" journalistic single-girl-in-the-city stories.
i_love_miu i_love_miu 10 years
this is sad, the book was great for light entertainment, I was looking forward to the movie
SoftRockStar SoftRockStar 10 years
Too bad. I think ScarJo can't act but wanted to give her another chance--plus I really liked TDWP--but eek..I'll pass.
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