Emma Thompson is back … with the DVD release of her latest starring and screenwriting turn in “Nanny McPhee.”

“McPhee,” which opened in the States in January with decent business, stars Colin Firth as the widowed Mr. Brown, whose seven naughty children drive away umpteen nannies after their mother’s death. But when the hideous-looking Nanny McPhee arrives, everything changes.

The DVD, available in full or widescreen, comes with several bonus features, most of which are quite good. Features include:

  • Casting the Children
  • Village Life
  • Nanny McPhee Makeover
  • Seven Deleted Scenes (including an alternate opening)
  • Gag Reel
  • How Nanny McPhee Came to Be
  • Feature Commentary (one with director Kirk Jones and the children who star in the film, and one with Emma Thompson and producer Lindsay Doran)

The gag reel isn’t that funny, but other features make up for it.

The 11-minute feature on “casting the children” shows just how much work filmmaking is—not only for children, but also for adults working with children. With animals thrown into the mix of this 20-week shoot, director Kirk Jones had his hands full. Interviews with the child and adult actors are included.

Also of interest is the seven-minute feature on how “Nanny McPhee” came to be a film. It was based on three children’s book by Christianna Brand, who wrote them in the 1960s and 1970s. It includes interviews with Thompson, who adapted the books, and a cousin of Christianna Brand, who died in 1988.

The makeover feature is terrific. While the makeup in “McPhee” is well done, it’s not overdone—just a couple of warts, dangling earlobes, bulbous nose, and snaggletooth. And this feature really shows you Thompson’s transformation (which miraculously took just over an hour each day).

The movie (click here for our review) is rated PG for mild thematic elements, some rude humor and brief language. It runs 1 hour 39 minutes.

The “Nanny McPhee” DVD arrives slightly more than three months after its U.S. theatrical release. The shrinking window between theatrical and home releases remains a contested issue. Theater owners protest the narrowing gap, saying it erodes their potential for profit. Opponents say rising ticket and concession prices, piracy and improved home theaters all make a narrowed gap more logical.

Walt Disney Co. Chairman Robert Iger suggested in August 2005 that the theatrical-to-home window might eventually be eliminated altogether. The current average between theatrical and home releases stands at about four months, putting “Nanny McPhee” on the front edge.

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.

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