Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Shirley Henderson, Lee Pace, Mark Strong. Comedy/drama. Written by Simon Beaufoy, David Magee. Directed by Bharat Nalluri.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Its 1939 London, and a recently dismissed governess seizes an opportunity by taking the job of a social secretary for a flamboyant American actress. Its a whirlwind adventure. The wannabe star is having affairs with three men, one a producer she sleeps with to get a career, one she sleeps with to get a good apartment and one she sleeps with because he loves her. The Prim and proper Miss Pettigrew has her work cut out for her as she tries to straighten out her ambitious but misguided mistress.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Theres an old English TV series, Jeeves and Wooster, about an unflappable servant and his befuddled employer. Hugh Laurie from House played the dimwitted gent Bertie Wooster in the finely adapted 1980s series based on P. G. Wodehouses witty novels. I dont expect many readers know about the show, as most of my colleagues werent even familiar with it. I wish you were because my analysis depends on it. Youll just have to trust me when I say Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is the feminine answer to those comic stories. Just not as good.

Where Jeeves served his master in the 1920s England, Miss Pettigrew guides her mistress through the equally delusionary days just before WWII. Frances McDormand is perfect in her role as the helpful hireling. And the message is sound: its better to wed someone who loves you than to seek happiness with a rich person wholl cheat on you. Okay, it doesnt seem profound. But evidently there are those who pay the moral no mind.

In the Wodehouse books the satire is funny, but also biting. Some of that seeped over into the television program, which ran for four years until both its stars decided to break out. In this production, based on the novel by Winifred Watson, satire, like wit, always takes a backseat to bawdiness. Certainly, bawdiness was evident in Wooster and Jeeves, but due to the decorum of the authors time and the forum of 1980s television, risqu humor had to be handled with discretion.

Though I like Amy Adams, here she acts like an escapee from a Disney cartoon. She tweets and twitters around like, well, an animated princess suddenly thrust into a live action world. She was perfect in Enchanted. Here, shes not shallow, which the role demands, shes just cartoonish.

The look, the music, and Ms. McDormand, as a cross between Mary Poppins and the mother of Oliver Twist, are the reasons to see this one. But check out the content before deciding. Some may object to the bawdy drawing room comedy.

DVD Alternatives: Emma. Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this period romance about a self assured young woman who turns matchmaker for her little English village. Although a most likable Cupid, she is often off the mark. The teen comedy, Clueless was inspired from this Jane Austen novel. Not quite in the league with Sense and Sensibility, but all of a sudden, about half way through, I was hooked. Beautiful to look at, amusing to listen to, and oh, yeah, nothing explodes! PG (I found nothing objectionable - no off-color language, no sexual situations, no violence).


I.Q. Walter Matthau, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins. In this romantic comedy, Albert Einstein (Matthau) has fun putting aside his physics to play Cupid for his pedantic niece and the local good guy/car mechanic. Romantic, literate and downright funny. PG (one scene features sexual double entendre and there are two mild expletives, but I caught no sexual situations, violence, or obscene language).


Princess Caraboo. A mysterious woman convinces the British well-to-dos that she is a princess from a far-off land. A most entertaining fairy tale, based on a true story. Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline. Rated PG.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few sexual crudities.

Obscene Language: Several minor expletives (damns, hells) but I caught no obscenity.

Profanity: One profane use of Gods name by Ms. Adams.

Violence: A fist fight between two men played for laughs. Blood: A bloody nose from the fight.

Sex: It is implied that Ms. Adams character sleeps with just about anybody who can either further her career or supply clothing.

Nudity: Partial female nudity as Ms. Adams gets out of a tub; a man is seen naked in bed from behind.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Lots of social drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 101 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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