The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries

Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, and Paul Giamatti star in a film written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, based on the novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

Inexplicably, the makers of The Nanny Diaries, in adapting this phenomenally popular novel for the screen, have chosen to change virtually everything about it, from minor details, to significant aspects of the characters, to the story arc itself.

The Nanny of the novel-a middle-class girl whose childcare gigs help pay her bills-is transformed on celluloid into Annie (Scarlett Johansson), a young woman from a working-class background who has no idea what she wants to do with her life after college. Her employers, the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. X (Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney), make the task all the more difficult by treating her like a nobody, even though she’s doing all the heavy lifting-literally and figuratively-of raising their son, Grayer (Nicholas Reese Art). Unable to assert herself with her employers-even as they repeatedly impose on her-Annie resists her friends’ advice to quit, unwilling to abandon Grayer as his parents’ marriage disintegrates.

Rather than trusting in the intrinsic entertainment value of the source material, the filmmakers have constructed a faux populist fable, in which Annie-whose single mom worked overtime to put her through college-teaches the privileged, imperious Mrs. X how to love and appreciate her son. In this worldview, wealthy equals bad, so the Mrs. X of the novel morphs from a state-school girl made good into a Smith grad-and the filmmakers feel compelled to render Annie’s love interest a virtual orphan in order to make him sympathetic.

In addition to replacing actual characters with cultural stereotypes, the filmmakers fail to convincingly portray the development of Annie’s relationship with Grayer, which is supposed to be what keeps her working in this miserable situation. Cultural voyeurs who want confirmation that rich families are as dysfunctional as you think they are may enjoy The Nanny Diaries-but for a charming fairy tale about a nanny, stick to Mary Poppins.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Man Talked Down from Goleta Overpass

The 48-year-old had tied himself to a sign support.

Get Oil Out Founder and Dolphin Sculptor Bud Bottoms Dies

He was a true man-about-town and an engaged public citizen.

Plastic Bags? Throw ’Em Away

Santa Barbara County makes recycling rules tougher in face of exacting standards.

UCSB Ranked Number Three in UC System

UCLA and Cal took the one and two spots.

Pini Property Fights Continue

As an epic attorney battle continues in the Dario Pini receivership, a tenant is getting fed up.