Starring: Martin Freeman, Marc Wootton, Ashley Jensen
Director: Debbie Isitt
Running Time: 105 mins
Nativity! is a British film about a down-on-his-luck primary school teacher who is given the task of directing the school’s nativity play, which rapidly grows out of hand after he accidentally reveals he has connections in Hollywood.
I remember nativity plays at primary school well, and I can tell you that they were nothing like Nativity! Obviously, movies don’t have to be realistic or 100% representative of my own life experiences, but there was something so irritatingly chirpy and shrill about this film that I just couldn’t get over.
Of course, on the surface, Nativity! is a perfectly lovely movie. Aimed at kids, it’s a fun-loving story of a bunch of ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation, and it features some genuinely likable performances from the likes of Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen.
If you are a primary school pupil, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this movie, even if it’s not the kind of nativity play that you’re likely to encounter yourself. For older viewers, however, Nativity! is just a little too high-pitched and childish to be genuinely entertaining, and more often than not proves a rather annoying watch.
As I mentioned, the film is rather shrill at times, not only because there’s a lot of cheering and screaming children, but also because of an almost unbearable supporting performance from Marc Wootton as the chirpy Mr. Poppy, who delights the children as they prepare for the nativity play of the century.
While Martin Freeman is perfectly likable, Wootton is representative of everything that really annoyed me about this movie. He’s so childish, so chipper and so irritatingly shrill that every time he appeared on screen I wanted to turn the film off. This could have been a more generic, bland kids’ movie, but Wootton unfortunately makes it an often infuriating watch.
Couple that with a preposterous story that gets well out of hand far too quickly, and you have a film that just goes overboard, when it could have kept things a little smaller, and a lot more likable.
As I said, movies like this don’t have to be realistic, and I’m not expecting to see my own nativity play experience on the screen (because that would be really dull). However, Nativity! is too much to stomach even for a kids’ movie, and despite some likable performance and a clear appeal to younger viewers, it really struggles to offer any genuine entertainment or enjoyability for anyone else. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.4 overall.