Cedric Brown is a hard-working widower who can't spend much time with his seven children, so he leaves them in the care of nannies. However, the children are very naughty and have managed, with pride, to scare the past seventeen nannies away. Running out of options, Mr. Brown listens to a mysterious voice's advice to call for a "Nanny McPhee". Nanny McPhee turns out to be a hag-like woman with a crooked cane and a habit of appearing out of nowhere (though she does mention she did knock). But there's a secret to her care-taking — she has magic powers, which she uses to teach the children some important lessons.Naughty children aren't the only problems Mr. Brown has to face. The truth is his late wife's aunt, Lady Adelaide Stitch, is supporting the family through a regular allowance, and she decides that unless Mr. Brown remarries by the end of the month, she will cut off those funds, meaning he will lose his house and his children. It's up to Nanny McPhee to help save a family on the brink of ruin.The 2005 movie did well in theaters, and a sequel, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (called Nanny McPhee Returns in the United States), premiered in 2010. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a beleaguered housewife juggling a farm and three children, while awaiting her husband's return from the war. With the added pressure of her brother-in-law wanting her to sell off the farm (to pay off his own gambling debts), and two upper-class cousins staying over, Nanny McPhee is needed once again. The trailer can be seen here.
Nanny McPhee provides examples of the following tropes:
Anachronism Stew: A black guardsman, guarding the War Office (a skyscraper) in his red tunic, in an unbombed London with no tape at the windows.
Badass: Nanny McPhee, to a point. This is a woman who rides in flying motorcycles, maintains order with a magic stick, and receives full attention and salutes from trained army soldiers.
Beauty Inversion: Spun into a plot point for Nanny McPhee. Every time the children learn something, one of her many hideous blemishes disappear. By the time her job is done, she's a completely unblemished Emma Thompson. Essentially, she's as ugly on the outside as they are on the inside.
In the sequel, the farm kids refuse to share their beds with the city kids, claiming they'd rather share their beds with the farm's goat and cow. Then the smallest farm kid blurts out "elephant" as his choice, leading up to Nanny McPhee trying to hide a literal Elephant in the Living Room.
In the sequel. One of the city kids deliberately takes a jar of jam the farm kids had created by saving their sugar rations for months, and wanted to have the first taste with their Disappeared Dad. And it breaks. They go justifiably postal.
While Nanny McPhee is generally stoic, in the first movie when Mrs. Quickly breaks Aggie's rattle she seems very angry at the woman.
Beware the Nice Ones: in the sequel. The extent of Phil's wrongdoing is finally made known to Isabel, even as he tries to get the military police guy to cart him off - but the MP has to tend to a bomb threat, leaving Phil with a handcuff on him. Isabel takes the other end and cuffs him to the wall, sealing his fate one way or another.
Food Fight: Two — one near the beginning with chaos, catapults and near-explosions, and one at the wedding at the end, including wedding cake being thrown. Not to mention the one who kicks it all off is a priest toward the bride — accidentally, but still.
Missing Trailer Scene: Some of the trailers for the sequel film included quite a bit of material that didn't make into the final cut of the film, though some of it was included in deleted scenes.
Novelization: There's one for Nanny McPhee Returns and it's written by Emma Thompson, who plays Nanny McPhee and was the writer for this sequel film. It's her first ever children's book and it takes the form of a movie filming diary mixed in with the actual story. The book was praised by reviewers as being more than a simple tie-in. The audiobook version of the novelization is narrated by Emma.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the sequel, the girls have to prevent Isabel from signing the deed to the farm, and Megsie successfully filches uncle Phil's pen. When Phil finds three more in a drawer, Nanny McPhee intervenes by bringing back the baby elephant to snatch the three pens without him knowing. And then he finds the first pen on Megsie.
Title Drop: In the sequel, a war veteran warns Isabel and family of the threat of bombings, calling it "the Big Bang".
Trickster Mentor: Nanny McPhee always has five lessons to teach. What else the people she helps may learn is another matter.
Tyrant Takes the Helm: Selma Quickly. Amusingly she says, "There are going to be changes around here.", a line made famous by Imelda Staunton as Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter's own Tyrant Takes the Helm story arc while Imelda Staunton herself is playing the cook in this film. (And Emma Thompson's (Nanny McPhee) character, Professor Trelawney, was a victim of those changes.)
Unusual Euphemism: "LORD LOVE A DUCK!", said by the priest after the first slice of wedding cake is thrown.
Why Waste a Wedding?: After running off Selma Quickly, and a fix-up from Nanny McPhee, Cedric and Evangeline use it.
Wicked Stepmother: Averted by Evangeline having a good stepmother. Played straight in that Selma Quidgly would have been a rotten stepmother — had she actually married Mr. Brown. Subverted by the sweet Evangeline actually being the one becoming the kids' stepmother- much to everyone's joy.