Home | Review Archive | The Bucket 'Blog | Screening Log | Film Festival Coverage | Contact Danny


  The Nanny Diaries

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Nicolas Reese Art, Laura Linney, Chris Evans

Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

Produced by: Richard Gladstein, Dany Wolf

Written by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini, Jenny Bicks

Distributor: MGM


     Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s The Nanny Diaries is a charming and engrossing movie at heart, but ultimately comes across as a muddled effort because the directors never settle on a singular tone for their film. Scarlett Johansson plays protagonist Annie Braddock, a recent NYU graduate who enters the cutthroat Manhattan job-market feeling totally intimidated. After a failed interview for a position at a sky-scraper-housed corporation, Annie finds herself sitting in Central Park, contemplating future opportunities. At this moment, by utter chance, she saves five-year old Grayer (Nicholas Reese Art) from being run over by none other than a man on a motorized vehicle. Thankful for her son’s safety after a sticky situation, Grayer’s mother (Laura Linney), a cold Upper-East-side housewife simply referred to as “Mrs. X”, mistakes Annie for a nanny and instantly offers Annie the career of taking care of Grayer full-time. Annie, wanting to find a job that will allow her to decompress, accepts Mrs. X’s proposition, contrary to her mom’s lectures about how she should try to find a profitable job in the field of business. What follows is Annie’s narrated expose on the broken, cold spirit of Grayer’s ridiculously wealthy family.

     The Nanny Diaries’ constant tonal changes make the picture feel as though it’s trying to be five different movies in one. It opens as a light-hearted drama about Annie finding her identity in the world. When she takes the job as Graer’s nanny, the tone instantly shifts to that of a melodramatic family film, relentlessly trying to get the audience to sympathize for the love-deprived kid. All the while, a bloated chick-flick is developing as Annie enters a relationship with the Xs upstairs neighbor (Chris Evans). Throw in the occasional spot of the comedy genre, and The Nanny Diaries forms a complete product. No—wait—that would ignore the serious drama that the film takes on in its third act as it chronicles the marital problems between Graer’s parents.

     Despite its aforementioned and quite troubling array of tones, The Nanny Diaries still manages to capture the viewer’s interest for the bulk of its duration. In fact, if I were to evaluate each of the movie’s tonal sections separately, I would likely praise the majority of them. Accordingly, the whole of The Nanny Diaries proves engaging in spurts. The main reason for this is that the performances are uniformly excellent. As Annie, Johansson is as reliable as ever, imbuing a realistic and sympathetic spunk into her role. Nicholas Art proves himself to be a worthy child-actor as Graer. Playing Graer’s parents, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney capture an intense coldness that feels authentic to their emotionally-confused but socially-prominent characters. Rounding out the featured cast, Chris Evans turns in a pleasant performance as Annie’s love-interest.

    In the end, The Nanny Diaries may not feel like a cohesive piece of cinema, but it’s engaging enough to make for an entertaining watch. When it is released on DVD, the film will prove an excellent rainy-day entertainment.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 4.3.2008

Screened on: 9.1.2007 at the UltraStar Del Mar Highlands 8 in Del Mar, CA.


The Nanny Diaries is rated PG-13 and runs 105 minutes.

Back to Home