The Nanny Diaries (December 2/07)
The Nanny Diaries can't help but come off as something of a disappointment, given that it marks Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's first fictional effort since 2003's superb American Splendor. The pair's efforts at infusing the movie with an off-kilter sensibility generally fall flat, and it becomes increasingly difficult to overlook the self-conscious, downright smug vibe that's been hard-wired into the proceedings. Based on the novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the movie casts Scarlett Johansson as Annie - a recent college graduate who goes to work as a nanny for the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. X (Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney) and subsequently finds herself drawn into their many domestic disputes. While the relationship between Annie and her charge (a little boy named Grayer) does temporarily alleviate the aloof atmosphere, there's ultimately no overlooking The Nanny Diaries' various similarities to the far superior The Devil Wears Prada. Linney's efforts at infusing her character with the same sort of depth as Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly prove fruitless, as Mrs. X generally comes off as a one-dimensional caricature of a villain (her subsequent softening is nothing short of laughable). The inclusion of a completely ridiculous, completely melodramatic third act certainly doesn't help matters, and it's hard to imagine a contemporary film that wears out its welcome with quite the same ferocity as The Nanny Diaries.