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    The Nanny Diaries

    I just couldn’t let summer go yet, so I saw “The Nanny Diaries”. Summer is now officially over.

    A recent business graduate of NYU, afforded by her mother’s overtime as a nurse, Annie Braddock runs out of an interview because she can’t answer the question of who she is. By accident, she meets Mrs. X and her son Grayer. Soon after, she is their nanny. Originally, the job was to give her some time to figure out what she wanted, but she barely had any time to rest. Throughout the film, Annie narrates her graduate school essay for entrance into an anthropology program. The opening scenes are those of Natural Museum of History dioramas, but look more like Madam Toussaud’s.

    For the last few years, Scarlett Johansson has been the ‘it’ girl of Hollywood. Since 2000 she has starred in many movies. I remember one film in which she was a young teenager: “An American Rhapsody”. She definitely had talent then. Although she hasn’t gotten into legal trouble, like other popular American starlets have, her acting abilities have not gone beyond ‘pretty blonde’ roles. As ‘Annie the Nanny’, Scarlett was hidden behind the poorly written character’s flaws. Annie stereotyped those she was supposed to observe without judgment. She also was naive, confused, a little immature, and was the ‘pretty brunette.’ We don’t know how smart Annie really was supposed to be except for her continual use of social-anthropological jargon. The daydreaming of red umbrellas didn’t help either.

    We are supposed to see Mrs. X through Annie’s perspective as a typical Upper East side woman, but Laura Linney, being the wonderful actress she is, turned a ‘flat as a pancake’ character into a whole person; one in denial of her life’s problems, but sill able to recognize that it’s never too late. Her desperation to feel better at the expense of hurting her son is heartbreaking and more complex than appears. Her behavior is summed up in one line to her husband said with sadness and frustration, “Why are you so cruel to me?” Her hope and desire is performed in one shot as she stands ready to celebrate her and Mr. X’s anniversary.

    Nicholas Art, the young boy who personified Grayer X, was superb. He was an adorable menace already showing the emotional scars of parental neglect. Because of his innocence, Annie cannot allow herself to quit and leave him to be like every other adult who abandoned him. Instead she allows their bond to strengthen as if they were family: not employer and charge. Spoiler: After having been unjustly fired, Grayer watches as Annie’s cab leaves, runs after her with tears in his eyes, and helplessly falls to the ground in a terribly beautiful moment.

    There were three other poorly written characters. As Mr. X, Paul Giamatti’s face was hidden for the first few scenes behind props, until after he had been discovered cheating with a co-worker. There was no point in making him so mysterious because everyone knew that Giamatti was that role. Chris Evans as Hayden, the ‘Harvard Hottie’, played Annie’s Prince Charming, whom she judged to be typical as well. Although he’s supposed to be a great guy, he still had a touch of Manhattan arrogance.

    As I said in my Smokin’ Aces review, Alicia Keys is an amazing singer, but does not belong in movies.

    The Nanny Diaries was supposed to be a comedy, but it did not inspire laughter. There may have been a few cute lines, but nothing funny. This movie failed to find its proper niche and was thus harder to appreciate.

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