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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Focus Features

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day reviews
Critic Score
Metascore: 63 Metascore out of 100
User Score  
8.1 out of 10
based on 27 reviews
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How did we calculate this?
based on 11 votes
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MPAA RATING: PG-13 for some partial nudity and innuendo

Starring Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson, and Lee Pace

In 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is a middle-aged governess who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Without so much as severance pay, Miss Pettigrew realizes that she must--for the first time in two decades--seize the day. This she does, by intercepting an employment assignment outside of her comfort level--as "social secretary." Arriving at a penthouse apartment for the interview, Miss Pettigrew is catapulted into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse. Within minutes, Miss Pettigrew finds herself swept into a heady high-society milieu--and, within hours, living it up. Taking the "social secretary" designation to heart, she tries to help her new friend Delysia navigate a love life and career, both of which are complicated by the three men in Delysia's orbit: devoted pianist Michael, intimidating nightclub owner Nick, and impressionable junior impresario Phil. Miss Pettigrew herself is blushingly drawn to the gallant Joe, a successful designer who is tenuously engaged to haughty fashion maven Edythe, the one person who senses that the new "social secretary" may be out of her element and schemes to undermine her. During the next 24 hours, Guinevere and Delysia will empower one another to discover their romantic destinies. (Focus Features)

GENRE(S): Comedy  |  Drama  
WRITTEN BY: David Magee
Simon Beaufoy
DIRECTED BY: Bharat Nalluri  
RELEASE DATE: Theatrical: March 7, 2008 
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes, Color 

What The Critics Said

All critic scores are converted to a 100-point scale. If a critic does not indicate a score, we assign a score based on the general impression given by the text of the review. Learn more...

San Francisco Chronicle Ruthe Stein
Frothy and exuberantly entertaining - in part because of the sexual innuendoes - it's the best romantic comedy so far this year.
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ReelViews James Berardinelli
Adams shines brightly, reinforcing the image she projected in Junebug and enhanced in Enchanted and Charlie Wilson's War. At this time of the year, it's tough to find a more diverting way to spend 90 minutes in a multiplex.
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Christian Science Monitor Peter Rainer
Based on the 1938 novel by Winifred Watson, it's a deluxe romance that most of the time plays like farce.
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Baltimore Sun Michael Sragow
It's an unusual and engaging romantic comedy because it's mostly about how these women ready each other for real love.
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80 Stephanie Zacharek
Watching McDormand navigate that transformation is the kind of thing that can keep your hope in movies, and in actors, alive.
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The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt
Sustains itself through terrific forward momentum and two glorious star turns by gifted actresses Frances McDormand and Amy Adams.
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Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips
Style is a tricky, elusive thing, and this film doesn’t so much have it as strive for it, constantly. But something in Watson’s story endures: The wish-fulfillment truly satisfies. And with the war clouds gathering by story’s end, the fairy tale acquires a bittersweet edge, nicely cutting all that whipped cream.
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TV Guide Ken Fox
Looks and sounds great, and is at its best when it isn't trying too hard to have fun.
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USA Today Claudia Puig
A good farce is hard to find. Particularly one that holds up for the entirety of the story and keeps us engrossed, while smiling. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a particularly effective and cheeky example.
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Miami Herald Connie Ogle
The only thing missing from this winsome, madcap throwback set in London on the eve of World War II is an actual Brit in the title role.
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Philadelphia Inquirer Carrie Rickey
A jubilee for McDormand and jolly good fun for most everyone else.
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Film Threat Matthew Sorrento
Plays like a breeze and ends before we know it. In the current state of cinema, all we can hope for is one like this per year.
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Los Angeles Times Carina Chocano
Bharat Nalluri directs with a light touch and a great eye for costumes and sets, which are gorgeous enough to make up for any contrivances in the plot. It's pure romantic fantasy, and you won't believe it for a minute. But it's fun to watch Miss Pettigrew and Miss Lafosse live for a couple of hours.
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Washington Post Ann Hornaday
The film's flaws are nothing compared with the pleasures it offers, chiefly in its unapologetic pursuit of old-fashioned sweetness and romance.
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The New York Times Stephen Holden
How light is this movie? So buoyant that even an air raid warning, signaling that this whole world is about to crumble under the blitz, can’t dampen its giddy spirits.
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Variety Todd McCarthy
McDormand's performance slowly builds a solid integrity, and contrasts well with Adams' more flamboyant turn.
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Seattle Post-Intelligencer William Arnold
The film is lovely to look at -- so overflowing with lavish furniture, jewelry and interiors that it's almost like a visit to Paris' Musée des Arts Décoratifs. If you're a fan of such things, "Pettigrew" is worth seeing solely for its sets.
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New York Daily News Elizabeth Weitzman
It's left to the ideally cast McDormand to keep everything on track and, as expected, she weathers every tonal change with competence, confidence and a perfectly stiff upper lip.
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Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum
Adams, of course, is a peach. Her sparkle requires only minor character adjustment and twinkle recharging from her recent triumph as the old-fashioned modern heroine in "Enchanted."
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The Onion (A.V. Club) Scott Tobias
In trying to recapture the spirit of classic '30s screwball comedies, the film too often mistakes manic energy for wit, and it ends on a note of gloppy sentimentality that wouldn't have held water in Old Hollywood.
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Premiere Glenn Kenny
Although McDormand's performance is consistently focused -- one would expect no less from the actress -- the movie itself can't settle on whether Miss Pettigrew is Mary Poppins minus the sugar spoonful or just plain Carrie Nation.
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Village Voice Ella Taylor
What makes Watson's novel a delight is its guilelessly homoerotic subtext. By downplaying that, the movie argues the case for Watson's innocent sensuality--and against its own worldly update.
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Chicago Reader J.R. Jones
This was shot at the legendary Ealing Studios, but I hesitate to call it a British comedy: its two stars are American, it currently has no UK release date, and its innocuous naughtiness seems pitched at grandmothers who watch BBC America.
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New York Post Lou Lumenick
I adore Frances McDor mand, but she's seriously miscast in a title role Emma Thompson could play in her sleep.
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Austin Chronicle Marc Savlov
The comedic success of this pair of dramatic archetypes, the radiant flibbertigibbet and the gray, lumpen elder spinster, in a lightweight bit of piffle such as this is a testament to both Adams' and McDormand's smarts. It's tough to play dumb when you're not and even more difficult to dial down your own innate brilliance.
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Boston Globe Wesley Morris
It's polished-looking, yet dull.
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Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern
At least Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day has the good grace to go wrong quickly, you don't have to sit there squirming with doubt.
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What Our Users Said

Vote Now!The average user rating for this movie is 8.1 (out of 10) based on 11 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

Enrique gave it a7:
Cute 'feel good movie.' Superb acting by Amy Adams.

Pat R. gave it a9:
A really charming film due to the great chemistry between the two leads, McDormand and Adams. English by has a nice touch. What else has he done?

Musthtrdoc gave it a9:
Charming, unpretentious, and well-acted, esp. by McDormand and Adams who have delightful comedic timing and chemistry. Some reviewers seem disappointed that it has "nothing more" on its mind, but why is that any less satisfying than a well-made action film?

Elizabeth C. gave it a9:
This film made me smile from the silly beginning to the touching ending. The romantic song in the middle was a throwback to the golden age of cinema.

Victoria S. gave it an8:
Just a lovely bon-bon of a movie. McDormand, Adams and Pace are delightful, and the wonderful Shirley Henderson puts an intriguing spin on what could have been a stock villain. Sparkling production values. Think I would have liked this far more as an actual '30s movie, but as out-and-out charming froth (and there's virtually none of that around as of late), it's a winner.

Sergio R. gave it a10:
Delightful and poignant comedy. McDormand and Adams sparkle in their roles. 1939 London comes alive beautifully on the screen, top production values.

Luis G. gave it a7:
its certainly the best hour and half you could ask for after Oscar season ... Mcdormand shines and Adam's a gem always... a rare treat.

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