Jan 14, 2015

Review: A Nanny's Secret (2009)

TV movies sure do seem to be filmed in Canada a lot. Low production costs are obviously the big draw here, but it does leave me wishing that my country wasn't simply used as stomping grounds for the Lifetimes and Hallmarks of the world. There are worse things I guess.

So how did I know that A Nanny's Secret was filmed in Canada? Well, my snooping revealed what I believe to be a St-Hubert (rotisserie chicken restaurant chain) takeout box and there's also a scene where Haylie Duff's character drives her car through a Pizza Pizza (middling Pizza chain) parking lot. That's evidence enough for me. After taking a look at the IMDb page for ANS after seeing the movie showed that it was filmed in Ottawa, Canada's capital. Elementary and all that eh?


Genre: crime, mystery, thriller
Directed by: Douglas Jackson
Produced by: Neil Bregman, Stefan Wodoslawsky, Tom Berry, etc.
Written by: Christine Conradt
Music by: Joseph Conlan
Running time: 91 minutes
Production company: Capital Productions, Corus Entertainment, Movie Central, etc.
Distributed by: Lifetime, Imagination Worldwide, Blue Sky Media, etc.
Country: Canada
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Haylie Duff, Jessica Steen, Eric Johnson, Dillon Casey, Jon McLaren, Stewart Bick, Alex Cardillo, Sophie Gendron, Shawn Lawrence, Tyrone Benskin, Paula Jean Hixson, Paulino Nunes



Claudia (Haylie Duff) works as a live-in nanny for the wealthy Tyrell family. Out on a date with her boyfriend Drew (Eric Johnson), she gets a call from her troubled brother Carter (Dillon Casey) to come bail him out of jail. Carter begs for $12,000 which Claudia would only give if he tells the truth about what's going on. He refuses to. Not long after, a masked man invades the Tyrell home, taking money and valuables from their safe and killing Kurt (Shawn Lawrence). Thinking that her brother is maybe responsible, Claudia tries to find out the truth.


A Nanny's Secret takes itself very, very seriously. It's got that serious kind of thriller music that's trotted out whenever things get, well serious. It's hard to take it seriously as a movie though, no matter how hard it tries. From melodrama, over-obviousness and poor acting, ANS is inept in pretty much every regard.

Let's start with how the characters of Carter the brother and Drew the boyfriend are treated. Claudia's troubled brother is first shown as exactly that. He's not a good guy, he's got a bad temper and he's desperate. Of course it'd be very easy to think that he was the one who did the home invasion and killed Kurt. Then you have Drew who's later a potential suspect. From being a "nice guy," he's suddenly an angry guy who's hiding things from Claudia. Know who's the nice guy now? Carter of course. He's always protected and cared about Claudia despite his problems and disappearing acts according to him.

This flip flop of characters is just bewilderingly dumb. It also doesn't help that everyone's performances are pretty lacking. Eric Johnson and Dillon Casey are somewhere between meh and laughably overemotional. Haylie Duff is actually kind of OK, almost anyway despite being pretty sheltered. The worst actor without a doubt though is young Alex Cardillo as Aiden Tyrell. He's even more sheltered, at times you barely even see his face as he delivers his lines. I know he's just a kid, but I'm not really all that surprised to see that his young career stalled after 2012. 

The writing in general is a huge problem for A Nanny's Secret. Many times characters are victims of their own stupidity and there are few things more frustrating than that as a viewer. When the home invasion happens, you can't help but wonder what's wrong with Lynn Tyrell? It's late, the doorbell rings and she doesn't even think to check the peephole before opening the door? This wouldn't have even been a problem at all probably if the door didn't have a peephole in the first place. 

One of the most bizarre aspects of poor writing though is regarding how much money is stolen. I'd say that several thousand dollars were stolen including some other valuables, putting the score at maybe $20,000. This is OK I suppose because who wouldn't like $20,000? It's not at all OK for what the thief plans on doing next though. (Spoilers) For some reason, Jace (Jon McLaren) the roommate's big plan is a getaway to Brazil. If he had scored a million or even several hundred thousand I could understand the move, but on $20,000? What kind of idiot uproots his whole life and disappears for only several tens of thousands? (End Spoilers) This is just another case of a character being stupid, among many.

The climactic confrontation is also quite laughable. Don't look for any tension here because you won't find it, despite Haylie Duff's over expressive eyebrows. (Spoilers) What kind of man can't even keep a woman down in a one on one fight when he's got the upper hand anyway? Never mind that Jace takes forever to try to stop Claudia in the first place and fails pretty miserably in his first physical encounter with her. (End Spoilers

A Nanny's Secret isn't good for anything else but accidental comedy. The writing is frustrating in many ways and the performances are bad across the board pretty much. Despite its efforts to be a serious thriller, it's no secret that this is an awful film that doesn't deserve anything more than a sad, miserable TV movie existence. 



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