St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry is looking forward to the Christmas Town of the Year competition for which they’re putting on a televised rock opera. However, the staff and students of the school have a lot to contend with. Firstly, they don’t know how to deal with Emmanuel Cavendish (Craig Revel Horwood), who is being a diva and taking over the show. Then there’s teaching assistant Jerry Poppy (Simon Lipkin) who is looking for a home and family. Meanwhile, a Syrian immigrant is looking for his father.
The fact that there have been four Nativity movies so far (yes, really) and that the names the movies have attracted have become less and less renowned over the years – from Martin Freeman and David Tenant, the latest one features such actors as Simon Lipkin (?), Craig Revel Horwood (?) and Daniel Boys (?) – is a sure sign of the deteriorating quality of the series.
A knock-off of ‘School of Rock’ from the outside (which fifteen years on has rightly still proven to be enduring), ‘Nativity Rocks!’ also borrows much from ‘Elf’. In Jerry Poppy (Simon Lipkin), you have the child-like, naïve adult protagonist who loves sweets, is looking for his family, and is determined to spread the Christmas spirit. However, Lipkin is a far cry from Jack Black or Will Ferrell, and his character is annoyingly, unrealistically socially inept (though kids are going to love his goofiness). Moreover, if the film is going to take from such classics as ‘Elf’ and ‘School of Rock’, you’d wish that it had at least brought along the wit and genuine feeling as well.
Little ones nonsensically bellow such ballads as ‘Born To Be Wild’, ‘We Built This City’ and ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ (not the Kelly Clarkson one). Toilet humour is plentiful while kids saying the darndest things are relied on for cheap laughs. In fact everything from the cast, script, direction and motive of the film can be described as just that – cheap. It even has a Syrian refugee storyline to add ‘relevance’. However the fact that more focus is given to the fully grown man looking to be adopted is incongruous. To reiterate, it’s cheap, cheap, cheap.
The rock opera finale is headache-inducing and goes on and on. In summary, the film is something to bring very little kids to to distract them for 100 minutes or so, and nothing more.