on 4 April 2010
I actually saw this a week after Christmas and immediately wanted to watch it again the next day! For that reason I can't wait for this to be released.
There are not many British Christmas films but this is the best I've seen. Even better than Love, Actually.
The characters are so warm you'll forgive any situations that seem implausible. The children are not your usual stage-school kids and that is the key to the film's success. They are totally natural and lovable!
Martin Freeman plays his usual persona and very good he is too. Standouts for me were Pam Ferris and Ashley Jensen. Initially I wasn't sure about the character of teaching assistant Mr Poppy but his child-like enthusiasm won me over. Alan Carr was brilliant too!
I'm going to buy this and save it to watch on Christmas Eve. This would make a great Christmas present for those that like laughing!
Primary school teacher Paul Madddens has had enough. One of his old ex-friends always manages to trump him in the annual Nativity play, garnering 5 star reviews in the local paper while Paul's school barely manages to get out of the minus stars. So when the headteacher puts Paul in charge of this year's Nativity play, he isn't happy and invents a small white lie to make out it's going to be amazing - that his ex-girlfriend, now a Hollywood producer is going to come over and watch it along with some of her colleagues. This isn't true but when enthusiastic classroom assistant Mr Poppy hears it, he tells the children and all hell breaks loose. Mr Poppy and the kids are determined to put on the best Nativity play the town has ever seen. Sure enough, even Mr Maddens manages to get up a bit of excitement for it but for one problem... how is he going to break it to everyone that Hollywood isn't coming after all?
This film is everything Christmas with children should be about - fun, laughter, and excessive practicing for the annual school nativity play. As someone who works in a school with a foundation stage class, I could totally relate to a lot of what was going on between the adults at school, but also the fun of the children they were teaching too. Anyone who works in a school will really relate to this, and anyone who has kids won't be able to resist going "awwwww!" at every cute thing the talented child cast in this film manage to do. Perhaps I loved it that bit more than my parents because I'm in that environment all day, every day but I just cannot tell you how much I loved this film, I really can't! The child cast are phenomenal, they are only young yet deliver lines, sing songs and deal with choreography like seasoned professionals, and they are a joy to watch. The rivalry between Mr Shakespeare (of the posh school) and Mr Maddens (of the not-so-posh school) gives us a bit of a comedy element, and it's funny to see the differences between the teachers and the way the children interact with each teacher... there's certainly a lesson in there for the more competitive grown-ups amongst us!
As for the adult cast, well they are all perfectly suited to their roles and I loved them! Martin Freeman will forever be "Tim" from The Office to me, no matter what other parts he does, but he plays the part of caring yet exaperated Mr Maddens perfectly, and I am sure a lot of teachers out there will see a bit of themselves in him. However, my favourite by far was the magnificent Mr Poppy played the hilarious Marc Wootton. I haven't seen Wootton in anything previously, yet I felt he was the energy and driving force behind this movie as I was watching and I was captivated by him on-screen, with both the other adults, but especially with the children. We really do need more men like Mr Poppy in our schools with our young people, and he was a joy to watch on-screen. Ashley Jensen was more of a guest role really, only appearing in a few flashbacks with Freeman, and then a few scenes near the end of the film, and Pam Ferris does a wonderful job of playing headmistress Mrs Bevan... nothing like her Miss Trunchball role you'll be pleased to hear!
I was worried that we wouldn't get to see much of the actual Nativity play in question, as is per the norm in movies these days, but we were treated to around 15 minutes of wonderful songs and performance from Mr Madden's class at the end of the film, and it was brilliant to watch. The storyline of the creation of this Nativity play with the class, Mr Maddens and Mr Poppy is the main one, but running alongside that is the broken heart of Mr Maddens, devastated after his ex-girlfriend fled to Hollywood for her career. The storyline around that, and the things the young children in his class say are so touching and heart-warming, I did feel myself welling up! The soundtrack is brilliant, with the original songs that the children sing being brilliantly modern and festive at the same time, and the rehearsal scenes were among some of the funniest! Mr Poppy is particular was most enthusiastic! This is certainly a movie that tugs on your heart-strings - yes it's cheesy and no it won't be everyone's cup of tea but I for one loved it, and can't wait to put it on every Christmas for a bit of festive cheer and lovely singing children. Utterly charming, and a film I thoroughly enjoyed!
on 19 June 2013
The product was advertised as a combi-pack - Blu-ray/DVD - and the package when it arrived carried a flash stating that this was a combi, you can see it on the cover at lower left.
But - there was no DVD disk inside - only the Blu-ray!!
Then when I accessed the returns process, it turns out that because the item was supplied by a third-party seller and was only 'fulfilled' by Amazon there was NO replacement option, only a return
Frankly the price even for only the Blu-ray was reasonable so decided to keep it anyway, but I wont be buying anything again from this particular seller!
Alas on this single occasion of many recent purchases from Amazon I am pretty dissatisfied.
on 23 January 2014
Primary school teacher Paul Maddens is charged with producing the school's nativity play.
Competing against the posh rival school for the honour of best reviewed show in town, the stakes are raised when Paul boasts that his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, a Hollywood Producer, is coming to see his show with a view to turning it into a film.
With assistant Mr Poppy fuelling his lie, Maddens suddenly finds himself a local celebrity and at the centre of parents and over-excited children desperate for fame and fortune.
Maddens' only hope is to get back in touch with Jennifer and lure Hollywood to town....
To be honest, the poster for this movie put me right off. I make a rule of not seeing a film where the star is surrounded by kids looking slightly perplexed, see also Daddy Day Care.
But my daughter dragged me to see the sequel, and that wasn't too bad, so I thought 'why not'.
And to be fair, it's a really fun film, not a Christmas classic by any means, but clever, and funny.
And kudos to the makers, if there is any truth to the fact that the majority of this was improvised.
Freeman is as good as always, if being a little too much like Tim from the office, but he has great chemistry with the children, and they are endearing also.
It's predictable, but who cares, it's a Christmas movie and it does its job of making you feel gooey inside and happy with the world for at least five minutes after the film has finished.
on 28 February 2016
This is the perfect, fun, feel-good family Christmas film. It made me laugh out loud at times and reduced me to tears at others. All the performances are fantastic, but I must give a special mention to the children who are very natural - not your precocious stage school types at all - and frequently hysterical.
Some people seem to find Marc Wooton's Mr Poppy irritating because he is juvenile, but that's exactly why he's such a treat - he's just so accurately childish, even the way he wears his parka (buttoned at the neck and without his arms in it, lol). I adore him! He's fantastic with the children and had me in stitches throughout. Martin Freeman is also excellent as the grumpy, Scrooge-like, no-nonsense teacher slowly rediscovering his enjoyment of Christmas.
I should point out that I am in my 30s and don't have children - it really is a film that entertains adults too. (Well, those less grumpy than Mr Maddens...)
Great entertainment that can be enjoyed at any time, not just Christmas. A belter!
on 22 May 2012
Stressed teachers, under achieving children, dodgy relationships - yes, it has all the key ingredients for a genuinely funny Brit-com. The fact that it's set at Christmas is just the icing on the cake. I literally laughed till I cried - and I'm as cynical as they come.
on 22 December 2014
My two boys and I really enjoyed this movie. It's a proper silly Christmas movie with genuine 'heart'.
The storyline holds together well enough to be believable and with excellent performances from Martin Freeman and the rest of the cast it's really worth watching. It even has enough 'realness' to be quite moving in places! It is one of those rare things; a feel-good Christmas movie with enough substance to make it a enjoyable to watch as an adult. My children laughed all over the place at the general silliness so it's a film we will watch more than once and will probably become a Christmas favourite in our house.
However, take note: the same cannot be said about Nativity 2. Don't waste your money on that because it is truly awful. Do as Martin Freeman obviously did (he's not in it); this is a one trip movie only. Watch and enjoy Nativity and pretend the sequels don't exist. They shouldn't!