The problem with The Nanny Diaries is that none of the characters are real. You don’t give a crap about a single one of them the entire way through. Why should I care if Annie falls in love or gets hit by a bus? The movie is so bent on creating a poignant satire and social commentary about upper class society that every person is merely an embodiment of their respective stereotype. This is something that The Devil Wears Prada already pulled off much better just last year, why repackage that with less talent?
If they had just made the characters real people dealing with a real situation, then it might have worked on a cute, fluffy level of mindless entertainment. But instead, the roles are written so fake to adhere to their mold (most aren’t even given names), that even their actions lack any realism whatsoever.
Who walks into a new job or a new home and starts putting on people’s shoes and taking bubble baths?
Or what about a scene popularized by the trailer showing Johansson wrestling with her new toddler assignment. Her underwear is showing and she somehow moons the next elevator passenger. Yet, when you watch it uncut in the movie, she stands around in the hallway with her jeans halfway down for no reason. She could have just as easily pulled them up, and it would have taken her two seconds as she stood outside the locked front door.
But that wouldn’t serve the outrageously hilarious payoff that happens next! A boy sees her panties! Oh no! In a country where I see a thong a minute, I’m not sure this is such an embarrassing moment anymore. Nor was it ever funny. At least a thong would have been sexy, providing an shred of something redeemable from such a poorly written script.
Annie (the nanny, get it?! isn’t that funny?! sigh.) is played by Scarlett Johansson, who must be padding her resume with a simple rom-com to contrast the serious things she usually accepts. She is still as stunning as ever, but she can only make this part halfway believable or watchable.
She plays a girl just out of college trying to find her first job. After an interview doesn’t go well, she saves a boy in the park and is suddenly being bombarded with nanny job offers.
The story progresses in disjointed fashion just like that, skipping over transition or reason. For example, one minute the little brat hates her and the next he admits, “I love you best.” Because she fed him peanut butter and jelly? And she went from struggling with the job to handling the child with ease. Despite the gap in plot development, once the two are comfortable with one another, there are some sweet moments between kid and caregiver.
The random guy who saw her underwear is labeled “Harvard Hottie” (Chris Evans) and after a few more embarrassing moments shared between them he starts to date her. Who saw that coming?
As Mrs. X (Annie’s “devilish” employer) I couldn’t tell if Laura Linney was overacting again or if her caricature was intended to be over dramatic. I would venture to say it was both.
And Alicia Keys as a supporting actress must have been hired at rock-bottom prices. That’s the only explanation for putting amateur next to Scarlett and let them blab words at each other. We may as well put a fourth grade pianist next to her at her next concert. Why not? Same thing.