“I said hip, hop, Santa’s gonna stop”
Has ever a movie franchise fallen from grace quite so sadly as Debbie Isitt’s Nativity films? It was made worse for me as I watched them all for the first time this year and so the decline has been compressed into a couple of weeks. The first film utterly enchanted me, the second somewhat disappointed by the third – Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey – thoroughly junked everything that worked about the original.
Once again, a new teacher is introduced to St Bernadette’s (this time, Martin Clunes’ Mr Shepherd) and once again, inimitable (and irritating) teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) is on hand to cause mayhem with his unruly antics leading his class astray. But where the first film was rooted in the universal appeal of school nativities, this sequel opts for the bandwagon-jumping of focusing on flashmobs, which meant it was probably out-of-date as it arrived in cinemas last winter, never mind now in 2015.
Throw in a ridiculous amnesia plot for Shepherd, some tiresome transatlantic hopping with his fiancée Sophie (a under-used Catherine Tate, with Duncan Preston, Susie Blake and Ralf Little wasted as the rest of her family) and a missing donkey, the film aimlessly wanders around without any real sense of purpose and the music, again so witty and warm in Nativity, is anaemically tuneless here. Hugely disappointing.