“The Nanny Diaries”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Theatrical release: August 23, 2007

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film version of The Nanny Diaries is a cute chick flick, but it lacks the witty tone of the novel, which took time to flesh out the characters.

The tone is set early on when the narrator notes, “In Africa they have the saying: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ But for the tribe of the Upper Eastside of Manhattan, it takes just one person: the nanny.”

Recent college graduate Annie Braddock (a brunette Scarlett Johansson) becomes the nanny for Mr. and Mrs. X, a narcissistic and selfish couple who have no clue that what their precocious son Grayer really needs is a mom and a dad who will pay attention to him.

At first, Annie can’t believe her good fortune. Caring for Grayer a few hours each day in the X’s luxurious apartment seems like a dream job. But as her job turns into a 24/7 nightmare, she loses her identity and becomes Nanny.

Annie’s attempts to befriend her oddly charismatic boss are met with rebuffs by Mrs. X (Laura Linney). When Annie mentions her home life, Mrs. X is stunned. “Nanny, you never mentioned you had a mother,” she says, as if she expected that nannies were shot out of giant pods.

Despite the film’s flaws, Linney is a standout. Like Meryl Streep, who made an unlikeable character sympathetic in The Devils Wears Prada, Linney brings humor to her role.

Unfortunately, Paul Giamatti (as the philandering Mr. X) and singer Alicia Keys (as Annie’s best friend Lynette) are wasted in their thankless roles.

While we are meant to feel sorry for Annie, we are left wondering why a beautiful and educated young American woman would allow herself to be manipulated into working ridiculous hours for less than minimum-wage pay. When Annie finally does stand up to her employers, it’s a little too late. For everyone.


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