Another insufferable installment to this Yuletide crèche-com saga.
As the deafening odyssey that is Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! nears an end there’s a scene in which a group of kids, led by a terrifying man-child, chant, 'Yes we can!' This is not a belated addendum to Barrack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, but the peak of a positivity-conquers-all fallacy that beats an aggressive path through this silly excuse for a children’s film.
Welcome to St Bernadette's primary school, run by Mrs Bevans (Pam Ferris) who is fed up of all the respectable staff being driven out by Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton), her roly-poly, gag-loving teaching assistant nephew. An opening montage shows how they flee in the face of paint bombs and farting sprees.
Into this merry chaos comes Mr Peterson (David Tennant), a serious professional and therefore – in the film’s terms – a total killjoy. He doesn’t realise that, against the headmistress’s wishes, Mr Poppy has entered the school’s only class in Song For Christmas, a school-vs-school singing competition scheduled to take place THE VERY NEXT DAY in a Welsh castle.
A madcap voyage to Wales ensues with Tennant’s character reduced to yelling, 'Mr Poppy!' while flapping like a man who’s been kidnapped by a nutter in a multi-coloured school bus. Narratively, it turns out that Mr Poppy is not an unhinged simpleton but a valuable source of encouragement to Mr Peterson. This development is a grave insult to all who rightly believe that lowering fourteen children and a donkey down a cliff is stupid.
Shoehorned into the mix is a back story intended to stand in as the film’s serious heart. Mr Peterson – like one of his child charges – has daddy issues, as well as issues with his successful identical twin(!), Roderick (Tennant). Coincidentally, Roderick has entered his own, more sinister school, St Cuthbert’s, into Song For Christmas. The thundering of a crass familial resolve can be heard from miles away.
To be fair to Nativity 2, the children’s performances are a highlight and not just because they signal respite from the soundtrack of wall-to-wall remixed Christmas jingles. There’s also a nice part for Jessica Hynes as egomaniac singer compere, Angel. But to answer the question, ‘Can we enjoy this witless film?’ is to yell, 'No we can’t!'
It is safe to say the original Nativity ruined Christmas.
There was a bit where Martin Freeman’s head formed the base of a paperweight. That was good.
It hurts to remember.