If you haven’t heard of 2009’s Nativity!, you aren’t alone, as it didn’t exactly set the box office on fire upon its release. Which makes the arrival of the sequel all the more surprising, considering the reviews for Part One weren’t great and original lead actor Martin Freeman has decided not to return.
Mr Peterson (David Tennant) is the new teacher at a new school with a pregnant wife at home, and when he arrives in class the kids have been convinced by teacher’s assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) to take part in the 'Song For Christmas' competition, top prize of which is £10,000 which they need for … well, no reason is given. But despite a lack of permission from their parents or the principal, Mr Poppy still smuggles the kids on a bus-trip from London to Wales, kidnapping Mr Peterson along the way so at least there’s a responsible adult to blame everything on. There’s also the problem of competition from Mr Peterson’s evil twin brother (also David Tennant) who just happens to be a world famous composer, who really wants to win this school-children competition because … well, no reason is given.
It feels churlish to rip into a kid’s movie, as there may well be a group of young ‘uns who’ll love this, but it’s difficult to imagine anyone over the age of eight finding this movie to be anything other than condescending and out-and-out annoying. A quick breakdown of the movie; the first ten minutes set up the characters in the school, the following HOUR has the group of kids lost in the hills of Wales, and the last thirty minutes is basically the worst episode of Glee you could imagine. There are episodes of Dora The Explorer with more intricate plots. Tennant manages to survive with his dignity mostly still intact, but Marc Wootton’s Mr Poppy is one of the single most irritating characters ever to be committed to film. During one particular scene, where Mr Poppy tries to convince the kids that donkeys can fly, it occurs that Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger could possibly be a horror movie with a central character that is clearly mentally unhinged.
Unfortunately, this movie is actually intended to be a 'kids comedy' movie, and the only horror is for those who’ve been talked into watching it by kids who don’t know any better.