Mother's Little Helper 

Living Uptown with The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries is essentially 2007's answer to The Devil Wears Prada, both being film adaptations of popular "guilty pleasure" chic-lit. Comparing the two is a no-brainer—Prada is better, with better wardrobes, a bitchier matriarch, sharper satire, and more charming supporting characters. But if you're hungry for a chick-lit-to-flick fix, Diaries will tide you over long enough for Prada to arrive via Netflix.

Based on the novel of the same name, Diaries stars Scarlett Johansson as Annie Braddock, or simply "Nanny," and for once, Johansson emotes without sounding like she's reading cue cards. A recent college grad, Annie is floundering with post-graduate indecision when she stumbles upon a four-year-old boy, Grayer (Nicholas Art), and his mother, referred to as Mrs. X (Laura Linney). Denizens of the Upper East Side, Mrs. X and her husband Mr. X (Paul Giamatti) are portrayed in the least flattering caricature of WASP-y affluence possible: Mr. X is an absentee father, an adulterer, and a lecher, while Mrs. X—who bears the brunt of the film's insults—is self-absorbed, demanding, neglectful, cold, spoiled, and greedy. Without needing or wanting to work, Mrs. X sleeps until noon, and requires a full-time nanny to look after her only child.

The Xs take on Annie as their nanny, and what follows is a fairly trite, predictable comedy of bad parenting, nanny heroism, and naturally, a dreamy love interest. It flirts with wanting to say something meaningful about class issues, to make a point of its skewering of the affluent, but it never quite wades past the shallowest depths. But while certainly flawed, Diaries rolls along enjoyably enough, and it's easy to forgive it for refraining from crossing the line into a more serious film. Like the mindless pleasure of a celebrity tabloid, you'll enjoy it, but soon forget it.

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