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Far too much of Mr Poppy, but it gets better towards the end
on 26 December 2014
Unfortunately, Nativity 2 was nowhere near as good as the first film. In the original, the harassed class teacher has to come up with a Christmas concert. The school pulls together, the Head is behind him, and the slapstick is mostly caused by his rivalry with a snooty private school nearby. There's a plot, there's development, there's a happy (if schmalzy) ending.
So, Nativity 2: 'Danger in the Manger', starring David Tennant, would be perfect Christmas viewing - right?
In this film Tennant plays Mr Peterson the new class teacher. The plot is much more unlikely - and, at times, decidedly worrying. Mr Poppy (Mark Wootton), the irritatingly juvenile classroom assistant, is still around, and this time has been urging the children to audition for a national singing competition in Wales. The school Head has vetoed it, but this does not stop him from egging the children on, and writing a song for them…
The story then gets sillier (and more worrying still) when the class, unauthorised by the Head, and unknown to their parents, set off for the competition in an extremely odd bus driven by Mr Poppy, with Mr Peterson kidnapped as he tries to stop them… and panicking about his wife, who might give birth at any moment.
We were getting annoyed and irritated by the first hour or so of this film, which was not humorous and had far too much of Mr Poppy. Then we become rather confused when the scene kept switching from the competition - already getting started, in the evening - to the class, staggering across rough ground, up steep hills, down ropes, accompanied by a baby and a donkey… in broad daylight. Without any food or drink, as far as we could see, wearing their costumes, but not getting dirty.
But we kept watching. I'm not entirely sure why. And finally were rewarded: the last half hour was a great deal better. We very much enjoyed David Tennant playing a dual role superbly; we also quite liked the other choirs singing and dancing. It made no sense that the school, despite their traumatic journey, and apparently no real rehearsals, absolutely stole the show but that was always going to happen - and they did it very well, on the whole.
We also liked the unexpectedly warm (if clichéd) ending.
Two stars for the first hour, four for the last half hour - thus a generous three overall.