Nativity came out in 2009 and was a charming festive treat. Naturally, as is the case with half-decent films, it was followed by two sequels, one poor and the other utterly dreadful. This latest instalment, while a mild improvement on the previous films, still sits in the bad sequel camp rather than alongside the far superior original.
The Nativity films are set in Coventry during Christmas, and follow a school and their teachers as they put on a Nativity. Or at least, that’s what they used to do. This film see’s Jerry Poppy (brother of the franchise’s character Desmond Poppy) as helps a Syrian Refugee find his father (bizarrely played by Broadway legend Ramin Karimloo). Alongside this, Craig Revel Horwood is an international rock-star who has returned to Coventry to put on a Rock Opera Nativity to help Coventry win Christmas Town of The Year (despite the fact that Coventry is a city, and they literally film the show in front of the Cathedral).
Naturally the kids do add a certain amount of cute charm, but that charm can only get the film so far. Playing Jerry Poppy is Simon Lipkin, and in his defence, he has to hold up an entire badly written film almost single handedly. But his quirky sensibilities become annoying very quickly, and by the end of the staggering 100minute run time, you’re glad to see the back of him. It’s no surprise to learn that Simon Lipkin played the original Desmond Poppy in the stage show, as his mannerisms and actions are massively over-exaggerated.
The plot is incredibly complex for a festive family film. There are multiple story strands that are trying to play against one another; a lost refugee searching for his father; a man yearning a family; a boy whose rich parents are too busy for him; a whole City putting on a Nativity, and a romantic subplot that begins and ends in about three lines of dialogue. A lot of these story arcs are supposed to end in a warm happy ending, but unfortunately the film decides to underscore these moments with dreadful sounding music that seems to have been recorded on GarageBand.
It’s a messy film with definite heart but little humour. The charm becomes annoying very quickly, the songs are forgettable and terribly mastered, and the whole film is filmed with enough plot holes to have Coventry disappear in a massive cavern. On top of everything else, it tries (and massively fails) to add a fat slice of political importance.
Horwood’s character states that the blitz should have “finished Coventry off”. This harsh statement is not true of Coventry. It is, however, true of the franchise. Blitz it before it gets any worse.