A young girl out of college played by Hollywood’s It girl gets an opportunity at a high class job and enters a world she previously knew nothing about. Her boss is a self obsessed rich elitist miserable bitch with marital problems. The young woman takes on the seemingly impossible job, devoting all the hours of her day. Her loved ones are ignored as she needs to divert attention at the drop of a phone call to her controlling boss. She eventually earns the respect of the people she works with, and somehow becomes sympathetic to the plights of her very unsympathetic boss. But at the end of the day she needs to learn to put herself first. The movie I just described could easily be The Devil Wears Prada, but it isn’t. I’m talking about another popular book to film adaptation, The Nanny Diaries.
Unfortunately, Diaries fails where Prada succeeded. It’s funny how the same premise can result into such a different movie. The comic beats are misplaced, and the tonal shift between the dramatic and funny moments are jarring. A romance with “Harvard Hottie” feels like a textbook screenwriting cliche. Laura Linney delivers a cold performance which is in no way comparable to Meryl Streep’s Oscar nominated turn. A dark-haired Scarlett Johansson tries, but not hard enough. Anne Hathaway is clearly the better and more likable actress at this point.
The film uses a framing device of looking at high class contemporary New York City through the eyes of a Museum of Natural History field guide. I’m sure the clever voice-over was ripped directly from the novel. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini use apt camera work to obscure Mr. X’s (Paul Giamatti) face, using Austin Powers-like camera tricks. You see, the father is never around the filmmakers use this device to visually show that. Too bad the rest of the film is not as inspired. The young child played by Nicholas Art is cute, but that is the be expected from this type of movie. And there are quite a few nice references to the classic Disney children’s film Mary Poppins.
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10