The Nanny Diaries (2007)

The Nanny Diaries
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Writer: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Based on: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Krausnovel
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Chris Evans, Paul Giamatti, Alicia Keys, Nicholas Art, Donna Murphy
Seen on: 22.1.2023

Annie (Scarlett Johansson) should be entering the life she has always worked towards, and her mother (Donna Murphy) has always expected of her. But after a chance encounter with Mrs X (Laura Linney) and her son Grayer (Nicholas Art) where Annie is mistaken for a nanny, Annie decides that she won’t be working at a bank – she will work for the wealthy Mrs X, and Grayer, of course, as a nanny. But working as a nanny and seeing how the rich people live has more challenges than Annie expected. And that she is forbidden from dating is the least of those challenges – despite Harvard Hottie (Chris Evans) living in the X’s building.

After having watched the film, it got a resounding, “well, that’s that” for me. It is not strictly speaking a bad film, but neither is it good. It’s just… passable.

The film poster showing Annie (Scarlett Johansson) and Grayer (Nicholas Art) sitting on the film title wearing party hats, looking bored or even angry.

The Nanny Diaries draws on the kind of faux-scientific-observational language as Mean Girls does (I don’t know which came first, the novel or the Mean Girls movie) that uses animals, or in this case, different cultures, to put the people it is about into a new light. It is not a trope I appreciate terribly, and in this case, it comes with a claim that the (fictional) people portrayed need the protection of anonymity because they are just so close to being real which I found too much. It didn’t add anything to the story but another layer of ridiculousness.

And honestly, there was already more than enough of that here. The one-dimensional characters that seem to fall straight out of the stereotype playbook (Linney, as usual, elevates any material and makes Mrs X more than just the lonely rich woman to be pitied). And the way Annie is both a sharp observer and the savior of everyone. It became pretty hard to suspend my disbelief here. Plus, Harvard Hottie, portrayed as the epitome of Not All Frat Boys! never worked for me, Evans’ charms be damned.

Annie (Scarlett Johansson) zipping up Mrs X' (Laura Linney) dress.

There are some good observations here. The way Annie is the lone white girl under a sea of nannies of color, and the way that becomes her greatest advantage and the really the reason she gets hired in the first place, is addressed directly and openly (doesn’t change the fact, of course, that all the players of note in the film are white). But Annie also does some really problematic things – like telling Grayer to keep secrets from his parents. Since Annie does them, the film puts it down as good caretaking, though. Or at least, “normal caretaking” and not “Wohlstandsverwahrlosung” (a German term to describe the kind of neglect that rich kids suffer as their parents hand them off to whatever caretaker they can hire until they think that the kids can handle themselves anyway).

In the end, the film is competently made but just so trite that it never really develops any kind of charm or character. Ultimately, it’s just bland.

Harvard Hottie (Chris Evans) leaning in for a kiss with Annie (Scarlett Johansson).

Summarizing: Boring but doesn’t realize it.

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