Film review: Nativity! (2009), written and directed by Debbie Isitt
If you’re Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman), a disgruntled primary school teacher, who once dreamed of being a successful actor, and you get to be in charge of the annual school Nativity play, you’ve probably got your work cut out regardless. If you happen to associate Christmas with that time your girlfriend (Ashley Jensen) dumped you before you were about to propose, it’s not great. Especially not when the head teacher (Pam Ferris) puts a numpty of a teaching assistant (Marc Wootton) with you to “help”.
The school, St Bernadette’s, are in competition with the local private school with regards to who can put on the best Nativity, and in order to impress his counterpart there, Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins), Maddens claims Hollywood are interested in making their show into a film.
Problem is, this little white lie is overheard, and soon everyone believes this to be the truth, and get all excited about it …
Also starring Ricky Tomlinson as the Mayor, Rosie Cavaliero as Miss Rye, and Alan Carr as a critic.
Nativity! is in a similar vein to Hamlet 2, with a teacher putting on a show against the odds, so to speak. Hamlet 2 is aimed at a much older audience and is therefore a lot darker and much less sweet than Nativity!, but that doesn’t mean that Nativity! is somehow the lesser film. On the contrary! Although, to be fair, everyone’s tastes are different.
As a Christmas movie, it’s a lighthearted comedy for the entire family, and it sucks you in. How can Madden possibly manage to salvage the situation without disappointing the children and while still winning over the snobs at Oakwood.
Freeman is great as Madden, and Wootton is a big kid and a lot of comedy comes from him. If you’re looking at a film to just sit down in front of the TV and watch while digesting all the food over this holiday period, you can’t go wrong. Family safe, while still amusing for the grown-ups.
3.5 out of 5 Hollywood productions.