"A new nanny enters the household of the recently widowed Mr. Brown and attempts to tame his seven exceedingly ill-behaved children. The children, led by the oldest boy Simon, have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies and are certain that they will have no trouble with this one. But as Nanny McPhee takes control, they begin to notice that their vile behavior now leads swiftly and magically to rather startling consequences."

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NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by "Anonymous" who says... "It was very predictable but the style was interesting. It was much darker than Mary Poppins. Colin Firth and Emma Thompson were very good in their roles."

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The movie begins with a voice-over by Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) explaining that this begins with an empty chair. Cedric's wife has died leaving him with seven children. Since his wife has died, he has gone through sixteen nannies, but he is confident that he has the toughest nanny in England. Cedric goes off to his undertaking job confident that the nanny can handle anything.

Next minute, the nanny runs screaming into his office, yelling that the children have eaten the baby. Cedric rushes home to find the children eating what appears to be chicken, while the baby is in a stew pot, covered in cabbage but unharmed. He gets angry at them for scaring away yet another nanny and tells them to go to bed without supper.

Cedric Brown rushes out of the house, tripping over things on his way out and runs into the maid, Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald). Evangeline goes up and stops the children from causing further mayhem. The oldest boy, Simon (Thomas Sangster, the kid from Love Actually) complains to Evangeline that their father hasn't paid attention to them since their mother died. The oldest girl is helping Evangeline learn to read. Evangeline is reading a book about a widower remarrying and tells the children that they may have a stepmother, where they respond that all step-mothers are evil (showing her a book of fairy tales). The oldest girl gives the baby back her rattle, telling her to be careful because that rattle is only thing the children have that belonged to their mother.

Cedric goes down to the nanny agency, but the woman there locks the doors and pretends not to be there, saying that there are no more nannies. Cedric hears a whisper through the letter box (Emma Thompson's voice) that "The Person you need is Nanny McPhee" Later he sees the same phrase in his newspaper. Cedric then talks to the empty chair (something he does repeatedly in the movie) telling his wife about all the troubles they are having. Cedric explains that Great Aunt Adelaide (his wife's aunt) wants him to remarry within the month, or she'll stop paying the rent on the house and he'll go to debtor's prison and the children into workhouses.

At night, children then sneak down into the kitchen, tie up the cook (Imelda Staunton), and start making a huge mess. Evangeline and Cedric can't stop them and are arguing when Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) shows up at the door. She's very odd looking, with warts and a long tooth and other strange features. She basically gets Cedric to admit that his children are out of control and heads down to the kitchen. She tells the children to stop, clean up the mess, and go to bed. The children in the kitchen ignore her and won't do anything. Nanny McPhee taps her cane on the floor and the children are making the same mess, only they are doing it much faster and can't stop. The children all ask her to make it stop (Simon holds out) saying "please" right before they catapult the baby into a stew pot. Nanny McPhee taps her cane again and everything in the kitchen is undone, the adults not remembering any of it.

The children still resist, lying about their names, but she names them all and tells them to go to bed, which they do. One of Nanny McPhee's warts disappears. Nanny McPhee tells the children that when they need her but don't want her, then she will stay but when they want her but don't need her then she has to go. Simon still wants to drive her off, though, thinking that she just hypnotized them. Nanny McPhee does down and tells Cedric that she will teach the children five lessons and that lesson one, "Go to bed when you are told," is complete. Nanny McPhee explains her only terms are that she has Sunday afternoons off. (A running gag is that she appears out of nowhere and surprises Cedric).

The next day, the children all pretend to have measles to stay in bed. Nanny McPhee taps her cane again, and the children literally can't get out of bed. She has them take nasty medicine and eat broth. When they admit that they were wrong, Nanny McPhee taps her cane and the children can get up. Their father is amazed that they regularly say please now. The other of Nanny McPhee's warts disappears and she announced that lesson two "Get out of bed when you are told" is complete.

The next day Cedric tells the children that their Great Aunt Adelaide is coming tomorrow. He is sure that the children will behave with Nanny McPhee, until she reminds them that tomorrow is Sunday and that she will have the afternoon off. Nanny McPhee finds Evangeline trying to read her book and Evangeline rants to her about how she thinks that Cedric feels superior to Evangeline because she is uneducated. Evangeline talks about her book and says that a widower would marry his servant when there is snow in August.

The children are supposed to be getting dressed as Nanny McPhee leaves. Simon says that he will put his clothes on... the pig. Great Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) comes and announces to Cedric that he still must get married and also that she will be taking one of his daughters away to live with her. She goes out into the garden and sees the pig and donkey with the dresses on and, due to her bad eyesight, thinks they are his very ugly daughters. Great Aunt Adelaide is going to leave until one of the younger daughters gets scared by the donkey and runs out into the front of the house, getting caught by Adelaide, who decides to take her. One of the boys sees this and calls on Nanny McPhee, who comes back and taps her cane, making the donkey dance and distracting Great Aunt Adelaide. Nanny McPhee tells the children that someone has to go with Great Aunt Adelaide and that they have to decide who. Great Aunt Adelaide's carriage pulls away and Cedric runs after it, thinking his daughter is on it, but finds that all his children are still with him and that Evangeline went with Adelaide. Nanny McPhee announces that lesson three, "Get dressed when you are told," is complete. Her hair is blond now instead of grey.

Cedric decides that he has to get married as soon as possible to the only woman who he can find (strangely, he has this conversation with one of the corpses he is working on). This woman, Mrs. Quickly, will be coming to tea the next day. Simon wants Nanny McPhee to put a stop to this, but she tells him that she cannot interfere on this. She says she will allow the children to drive Mrs. Quickly off, though, as long as they accept the consequences of their actions.

Mrs. Quickly (Celia Imrie) comes to tea and the children try a variety of tricks to scare her away. Each time, though, Cedric prevents each of them. However, Mrs. Quickly misinterprets his actions, and leaves in a huff, thinking him lecherous. Cedric explains the situation to his children and how Mrs. Quickly was their only hope. The children want Nanny McPhee to change it, but she says she can't and that they promised to accept the consequences of their actions. Nanny McPhee announces that Lesson four, "Listen" is complete and she again less odd (she still has the weird tooth, though).

The children go to Mrs. Quickly's house and explain the situation, including that they have a rich noble aunt, which attracts Mrs. Quickly's attention. She comes back and gets engaged to Cedric. As the children get ready for the wedding though she tells them to behave, taking the baby's rattle (their mother's) and snapping it, announcing that she's their new mother and that they have to behave. The children don't say anything about how nasty Mrs. Quickly is because they don't want to be split up.  Great Aunt Adelaide arrives for the wedding with Evangeline, who the children don't recognize because of the way she talks and is dressed.

The outdoor wedding proceeds and Simon asks Nanny McPhee what they can do, but she tells Simon that he must think for himself and behave. The baby keeps repeating behave until Simon hears "bee-hive." The children all pretend that they see bees. The minister, who is allergic to bees, panics. Mrs. Quickly yells at the children but Cedric says he sees a bee and hits her hat off. The minister, while trying to avoid imaginary bees, hits some sort of pastry at Mrs. Quickly, setting off a massive food fight. Evangeline goes back to being her old self and joins in. Cedric defends his children from Mrs. Quickly and she leaves in a huff. Great Aunt Adelaide is upset that Cedric was going a woman like Mrs. Quickly and now isn't getting married at all. She leaves, calling Evangeline with her.

Simon runs after her and confirms that if their father gets married that day that Adelaide will continue the allowances. Great Aunt Adelaide points out that he isn't getting married but the children say he can marry Evangeline. The children get Cedric and Evangeline to admit that they love each other and tell Evangeline that they're fine with her being their stepmother. Nanny McPhee taps her cane and everything is cleaned up (they are all wearing different clothes) and it begins snowing (in August). A repaired rattle also falls from the sky. Nanny McPhee now looks completely normal as the last lesson, "Behave," has been learned. As Nanny McPhee walks Evangeline down the aisle her dress turns into a wedding dress. She tells Evangeline that she is the ending of her book.

Nanny McPhee is then inside the house. She bows to the empty chair and walks away in the snow a voice over echoing what she said before: that when the children need her but do not want her, she will stay but when the children want her but do not need her, she will have to go.

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