Friday, March 8, 2013

The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries

    Because of my background in childcare, I was interested in seeing this movie. It looked cute and funny; it might even hit a little close to home. The movie is based on the book >>>"The Nanny Diaries"<<< that is written by two former nannies who cared for children in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Most of the material that is in the story is based an actual events that the authors heard from other nannies.

     The movie was unique from the very start, because Annie aspires to become an anthropologist and she sees her job as a field study and the Upper East Side her foreign land to discover and document. So everything is seen through the eyes of a researcher writing in a notebook and that made for a lot of hilarity. 

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Scarlett Johansson as Annie Braddock
     A college graduate from New Jersey, who has majored in Anthropology, Annie Braddock wants a job as soon as possible to get herself started in the world. The problem is...Annie doesn't really know what she wants to do, even as a college grad. So, after a failed job interview, Annie walks along the streets of Manhattan contemplating her life and her purpose in the world. 

     Then a happy accident happens and she is offered the role of a nanny for a socialite mother. As matter of fact she ends up getting quite a few job offers. Not knowing anything about childcare, Annie jumps in (without telling her ambitious mother who thinks she has gotten a job at the bank) and begins her summer as "Nanny."

   She thinks that childcare going to be easy and fun, but very quickly the words easy and fun become replaced with complicated and disastrous. She learns about the lives of other nannies who struggle with their difficult employers and have sacrificed much to care for privileged children who have everything but love. 

     Annie is kind, generous and very open, but can also be obstinate, headstrong, and judgmental. Her life with the family, known as the Xs and their son Grayer, gives her a very hard look at her life and what she should truly want from it. Does money and success lead to a happy life? Or does hard work and honesty have more to offer? Overtime, Annie realizes that life with Xs, that life lived on the top, is not the life for her, but she also understands that just because some people in that facet of society are a certain way doesn't mean that everyone is.
     
     Scarlett was amazing in this role!!! I loved her! She was just personable and lovable from the very beginning of the movie and you could really see the character development that Annie goes through. I wouldn't have really tagged her for a role like this, but she pulled it off flawlessly. She totally tapped into the childcare attitude. Which is unconditional love for the children you take care of and constant conflict with the parents.

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Laura Linney as Mrs. X
Paul Gimatti as Mr. X
     Annie refers to her employers as the Xs, because names could cause conflict with her "field study." These people are wealthy, popular, have a beautiful son (which they take no notice of), and seem to have it made, but as Annie realizes, they are completely miserable with each other.

     Mrs. X (who we later find out is Alexandra) may seem kind and composed while shopping in public, but as soon as she steps through the door of her swank apartment, she is a complete monster to her son and Annie. She is typical social climber who would rather get facials than eat lunch with her child and puts all her marital stress on the nanny. Her cold and callous nature stems from the pressure of the upper society to be bigger and better than everyone else.

     Mr. X is a philandering work....or more like affair...obsessed man who gives no time to his desperate wife and son. Selfish, rude and arrogant, Mr. X is the major reason why Mrs. X is the way that she is. He treats her with complete disrespect and her anger gets passed down to Grayer and Annie. Eventually you begin to pity his wife and the situation that she's in.

     Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti did a great job portraying these very incompatible partners in this very dysfunctional relationship. Laura played Mrs. X in a wide variety of emotions, causing people to loathe her one moment and then pity her the next. Paul Giamatti....was just a jerk...lets just leave in at that.

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Nicholas Art as Grayer X
      Grayer or Grover, his secret name given to him by Nanny, is a five 1/2 year old who is bright, witty, full of love and life, and anxious for his parents attention. All he gets from them is a slammed door in his face. So when Nanny shows up he has an immediate dislike of her, but overtime he grows to love her...more than his own parents. Grayer is the product of what is being known as white collar child neglect, which are children from upper class families who are left to the care of nannies and have parents who care nothing about them.

     Definitely one of the best characters in the story! Some of the funniest scenes have to do with Grayer and Annie as they get to know one another. Annie's love for Grayer is what keeps her their with the Xs and Grayer's love for Annie is what causes his mother to resent and dislike her even more. Grayer was a delightful lovable little boy that makes you want to love from the beginning to the move to the end.

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Chris Evans as Hayden 'Harvard Hottie'
     Chris Evans could have been an obvious hook for a 22 year old woman like me to watch the movie and his role in it was a worthwhile watch. Annie refers to Hayden as Harvard Hottie because her job requires her to be single and she believes that names are unimportant. Everytime Annie meets 'Harvard Hottie,' she is in the worst position you can imagine. Their first meeting is unfortunate to say the least, the second is just down right humiliating, but the third meeting is eye opening and causes him to want to know her more. 

     Annie stereotypes Harvard Hottie as a snobbish upper crust jerk who has (in her mind) lived a perfect charmed life, free from the stresses of the world. Harvard Hottie proves her wrong by telling her his life story which has been painful and lonely. Afterwards, Annie sees him as her salvation and the only reason to stay in Manhattan (with the exception of Grayer).

     Chris was charming and romantic in his own quirky humorous way. His and Annie's developing relationship provided much of the comic relief in the film. It was also wonderful to see how the more Annie got to know him, the more she began to understand herself and her place in the world.

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Alicia Keys as Lynette
     Annie's practical, no-nonsense best friend who thinks that Annie can do better than the life of a domestic. Lynette is the type of friend someone should have. She's honest, caring, and willing to help Annie out with her situations at last minute. Her calm presence and clear minded advice make Annie realize that her rash decision to take a nanny position may not have been the wisest, but that she may also end learning more about herself than she thought.

     Although I've only known Alicia Keys as a musical artist, I was really impressed with her as an actress. She had the same vibrant character that Scarlett has, just in a more subdued way!

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Grayer and Annie's first meeting in Central Park
     Eventually, Annie is fed up with the X's lifestyle and lets Mr. and Mrs. X have it through the lens of the 'nanny cam.' Disgusted and over their shallow living, Annie releases her anger and frustration on Mrs. X and her neglect of Grayer and on Mr. X and his treatment of his wife and son. Only then does Mrs. X realize how her selfish living is costing her more than money, but a relationship with her son.

     As a former childcare worker, I could really identify with Annie's ordeal of having to be the middleman between parents and children. I was glad that the book was written by former nannies who had experience with the life of the Upper East Side and get a real inside look at the difficulties people face inside their mansions.

     This has definitely become one of my favorite movies! It's funny and romantic, but there is a serious undertone of wealth and selfishness that comes from money and possessions. As Annie says to Grayer, "Money can buy you a lot of things, but it can never buy love."

1 comment:

  1. The Black Widow and Captain America? It sounds good! (That's hilarious, actually.) Nanny type movies are always pretty funny. Great review!

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