Picks and Pans Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

updated 03/17/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/17/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Frances McDormand, Amy Adams | PG-13 |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

COMEDY

While I was visiting my GP last week for a checkup, she asked for movie tips. I recommended those dark masterpieces No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood. Nope, she said, she only wants to see films that will cheer her up. Well, I'm happy to report that Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is just what the doctor ordered.

This delightful champagne cocktail of a comedy, based on a 1938 novel by Winifred Watson, is about Guinevere Pettigrew (McDormand), a prim, unwed English governess who, acting as a sort of Mary Poppins for adults, straightens out the life of a ditsy American actress (Adams) who's busily juggling three bedmates. In the process, Miss Pettigrew herself gets a makeover, loosens up and finds love, all in the shadow—this is London, 1939—of the coming war.

Adams is having a blast here, appropriating Marilyn Monroe's breathy purr and Carole Lombard's wackiness while adding a goofy charm all her own. McDormand, always a pleasure to watch, gives the film genuine heart and soul.

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