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.
on 16 December 2014
I'm TheMr42 and I don't usually write reviews but for this I had to.
Right. Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger.....
Wow it was bad and I mean bad with a big B. I'm just glad that I didn't pay money for it specifically (Amazon Prime) or I'd have demanded a refund with a flying donkey's weight in interest. There are two reasons that this film has one star and those reasons were David Tennant and the fact that I don't think I can actually give the film no stars.... can I? Please?
I like films but I like ripping into bad films even more. So I'll have a stab (if only it were literal) at this one.
[SPOILER HEAVY FROM HERE IN!]
TheMr42 Reviews: Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger
Mr Poppy. You strange, deranged, confused explosion of idiocy, childishness and pure stupidity given human form. What the heck is wrong with him anyway? It's like Mr Peterson says, he might actually be certifiably insane! In the original Nativity Mr Poppy was over the top, he was an exaggerated manchild. In Nativity 2. He's a teacher attacking, class kidnapping, baby stealing, thieving criminal who steal nearly £100 from a man he's abducted and tied up, has said man's only link to his PREGNANT WIFE thrown out of a moving bus which he later drives into a river (good job the school just happened to have spent the money they couldn't spare to attend A Song For Christmas on a London Duck Bus, budgeting am I right?), steals a farmers Donkey, strands a group of children in the Welsh Highlands in winter before demanding they abseil from a sheer cliff-face.
This man should be locked away in a padded cell, dropped on his head as a child or not, daddy issues or not, he's two steps away from becoming a serious child killer, even if it is by accident! To make matters worse, he's employed by his aunt in a professional capacity! Nepotism at it's finest folks, putting your children at risk since...far too many years ago.
And to top of this ridiculous list of deadly stupidity, he makes the entire thing out to be Tennant's fault, Mr Peterson is the bad guy in this! The no fun party pooper who insists on going home safely and needing to be able to reach his heavily pregant wife! (More on that later.) HOW?! HOW IS THAT A THING!? By the end of the film Tennant's character is so mentally broken he just accepts the futility of his life and joins in! Mr Poppy is not funny, he is grating, and annoying and his single character trait (being optimistically stupid) wears pretty thin after the first film so once you have to spend nearly half an hour at the start of thisfilm focusing almost exclusively on him..... it made me want a lobotomy. I kid ye not, if someone had offered to remove the part of my brain that stored that memory I would have thrown money at them, anything to make it stop.
The plot is fundamentally similar to the original nativity. There's a performance that they have to get ready for and there's a very talented but obviously evil (they don't understand human emotion or appear to know what babies are) opposing performance who should, in every conceivable way, beat the pant off our group of ragtag scamps. Where this story differs is that there are no stakes. In the original nativity the whole point of the performance was to cover up the lie to allow Mr maddens to try and win back the love of his life, a plot fueled by a character's conflict which is great! In this film they do it because.....Mr Poppy read about it in the paper and his Outer-manchild went woopee? (Oh and lots of money! don't forget to add that commercial greed in your Christmas spirit this year). There's nothing at risk here, no real objective that the audience can get invested in apart from at the very end where the dastardly villains steal a song from the people who were....the dastardly villains in the last movie....
Huh... why should we care if the two people we're SUPPOSED to dislike take each other on? Surely that's a good thing? Oh! but they steal the vitally important baby too, the evil scoundrels! Our heroes need that baby! So that they can make it's little legs dance on stage like some kind of cruel infant flesh puppet for the amusement of others.... Wow, I'm actually starting to root for the bad guys now.... At least they've clearly practiced
. And that's the next big problem I have with this film. The "good" guys get a win for FREE. NO EFFORT REQUIRED. All they needed to do was be the heroes and voila! Instant win. In the first Nativity they could succeed or they could fail and we watched as they learned and improved and PRACTICED in order to get ready and thus we enjoyed the final performance. Here we get some painfully annoying "auditions" (courtesy of Mr Poppy-cock) and that's it. The rest of the film is just them getting there, We never see them rehearse, learn their lines or anything and yet, obviously thy win a national competition against singing groups who clearly put their heart and soul into perfecting carefully choreographed routines. Oh, well. They got the wrong casting I guess, if only they'ed auditioned for the main roles. I know the good guys are meant to win but seriously, there's God-in-the--machine and then there's Deus ex make-my-problems-go-away-please-thanks!
The music itself is okay I guess, it's mainly harmless despite the pop references that will obviously never get old and date this film in anyway. My cynical mind thought the "Christmas Stuff" song all about wanting only the material elements of Christmas was quite funny, though having two songs in a children's Christmas film with girls in skimpy Santa suits or songs about riding the pretty Christmas fairy's wings and getting wishes all night long?! Seriously? I bet the writer's were cracking up at that one, "Ho ho ho, we're writing a song about Christmas in the bedroom into a kid's movie and they won't even know it, ho ho ho." And I think this is part of a bigger problem:
Unless you are 4 years old, (or Mr Poppy) you are not this movie's target audience and that's fine. or it would be If they didn't keep throwing in more educated jokes, usually from Tennant, and references that only an adult would get! Any adult that can sit through this movie unflinching and resolute has my undying respect, you are a braver man (or woman) than I, but there is way to much brainless kiddy humour to make it even remotely fun for an adult to see this, despite touching on very tender issues, dad's abandoning families, dysfunctional families and hate between siblings. They had the opportunity to make this an all ages film, like the first Nativity and they done goofed. They made it so black and white with everything becoming white and good in the end that's it's insulting how simple it all is. Everything is wrapped up with a nice neat little bow at the end, the little boy who never speaks speaks, the lucky hat is returned, they win the competition, Aunt and Poppy make up, the bad guys get beat and realise the importance of family (flipping sides in about 2 minutes) and, of course Peterson's wife gives birth......Wait what?
We are told explicitly in the woods that they don't know the gender of the baby, something that can be told about 4 months into the pregnancy, If this is true then when she gives birth at the end of the film those twins are, possibly, 5 months premature! That's just ridiculous, the most premature child to ever survive was only 4 months and these twins are a month beyond that! As morbid as it might be, those kids are not going to be healthy, even if they survive!
So, the plot is laughable, most of the characters are such obscene caricatures that they resemble cartoons more than actual people, the songs are forgettable and the ending is contrived as heck, lacking all the emotions and gravity of the original film. But there must have been something good in it surely?Well, Tennant does his best, playing both his parts with great definition, creating two obviously different characters but leaving enough similar to show that their not complete opposites. Shakespeare does a good job of actually making you fell sorry for him at times and the film is shot and edited really quite well. The child actors are all utterly forgettable, even the ones who played really prominent roles in the Nativity 1, some (Who we KNOW can sing) even get relegated to back-up singers in favour of a tubby lad flopping around on the floor which was just..... kinda sad really. It's not particularly clever humour and there's not enough time spent on it to make it about him coming out of his shell despite his weight, it's just funny because he's fat. That's all there is to it. (Wow, I sound mean right now!)
Anyway. If you're thinking about watching this movie please think again. and think some more. Then go get the Christmas fizz from the fridge sit back on the sofa and load up Nativity!, the original and the best. Some people in this review section have said that this was as good as its predecessor.... maybe it is. If you watched the original through broken glasses while a 30 year old 4 year old screamed into your ear for 2 hours.
Honestly it's your time and your money just, take it from me, don't spend them here. Have a very Merry Christmas and thanks for reading to the end.
I've been TheMr42 and I just reviewed: Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!
(Oh God I wish I hadn't!)