Emma Thompson's title character drops by to play governess for another harried English mother, Isabel (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is struggling to raise her children while looking after her young, snooty city cousins and
saving the family farm from her duplicitous brother in law (Rhys Ifans) while her husband is off fighting World War II. The look and structure of the film, like its predecessor, remains a cross between Roald Dahl books and George Miller's Babe
films. Still, there is simple, childlike charm in the fantastic rendering of baby elephants and synchronized swimming piglets, but not so much in flatulent cows and McPhee's belching jackdaw. The occasionally plodding plot is saved by a first-rate cast, especially Thompson, 15-year-old Eros Vlahos as cousin Cyril Gray, and Ralph Fiennes, in a cameo as Cyril's absentee father, a ramrod war commander. Gyllenhaal, however, provides her trademark overemoting and a faux-English accent as thick as the pig poo covering Isabel's front yard.