Sunday, 21 December 2014

Film reviews: Nativity 2 and Nativity 3.

The first Nativity! film is a very pleasant, middle of the road English film, worth watching. Does have one classic line in it.

I agreed with my kids that we would watch Nativity 2 on DVD first and then go and watch Nativity 3 the next day, which we did.
Nativity 2 is miles better than the original, it is a proper film. There are various equally important strands to the plot.

1. Like all good Xmas films, there are "journeys", be that a literal journey; an emotional journey or the characters overcoming a series of obstacles to achieve their goal. For example, Schwarzenegger trying to get hold of a Turbo Man, Kevin fighting off burglars or Kevin's mum/family making a nigh impossible journey to be reunited with Kevin. See also Planes, Trains & Autombiles (for Thanksgiving read Xmas). And there has to be a happy yet tear-jerking ending.

2. Nativity 2 does all of those and more:

- The bromance between the strait laced new teacher Mr Peterson and Mr Poppy, the anarchic classroom assistant.

- Mr Peterson is happily married and his wife is expecting a baby, so she gets a bit upset when he goes missing (having been effectively kidnapped, robbed and his mobile 'phone destroyed).

- The bitter rivalry between Mr Peterson and his far more successful twin brother (which leads to the inevitable confusion comedy);

- Mr Peterson's openly disapproving father who calls him a disappointment to the family, to the embarrassment of the long suffering Mrs Peterson.

- The rivalry between the posh school and Mr Poppy's state school (continued from first film)

- Mr Poppy has the insane idea of his class/school taking part in a Xmas song competition in Wales, so there is an epic road trip. Without any parental consent, they set off in a (probably stolen) amphibious bus; kidnap Mr Peterson, a baby to use as a stage prop and later on a girl from the rival school; motor across a lake to escape somebody or other; run out of fuel just before they reach the opposite shore; steal a donkey; steal two boats; hide in a cave; climb a high mountain and then abseil down a cliff on the other side; finally being rescued by a helicopter, although they arrive minutes too late to take part in the competition.

3. Somehow, all these strands are all resolved nicely: Mr Peterson calls a truce with the teacher from the posh school and they beat Mr Peterson's brother's entry in the competition although the posh school the prize; Mrs Peterson finds her husband and then gives birth (to twins) in a stable with the donkey in attendance; as a result of which Mr Peterson's dad is so proud that he reconciles with his son; Mr Peterson tells his twin brother that Mr Poppy has been more of a brother in the space of one day than his twin ever will be etc.

4. Plus there are loads of really funny lines. The best bit is actually when they are lost in the forest and Mr Peterson snaps out of it and starts shouting at Mr Poppy that he is an complete maniac who is endangering the lives of all the children they are schlepping around, and that they are in breach of just about very school rule that exists. He is being deadly serious, it is not actually funny at all. Mr Poppy then gets a mobile phone out of his impossibly deep rucksack and Mr Peterson screams at him "You've got a bloody 'phone! Why didn't you tell me you had a bloody 'phone?" (or words to that effect).

Ten out of ten out of ten. Bonus points for the deliberately awful Xmas songs performed in the competition and the cynical collusion between a corrupt judge and Mr Peterson's twin brother, "It's got to have a little boy with glasses singing a solo about how lonely he is, that's what the public wants."
And lo, duly enthused, we went to see Nativity 3. There are plenty of funny lines in the first half, but the entire plot is totally implausible crap and contrived plot devices (the new teacher loses his memory, yawn) and the second half is absolutely awful, making no sense whatsoever and being interrupted with an entirely unrehearsed yet polished song-and-dance routine every five minutes. When the new teacher finally reconciles with his fiancée and they get married, you really don't give a shit either way.

Just saying'.


The Stigler said...

I've only seen the 1st. Thought it was OK. Might try the 2nd, then.

But you and most critics have panned the 3rd.

If you've not seen it, give Arthur Christmas a go. I think it's on C4. It had terrible marketing, but it's decent.