Magazine article Screen International

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!

Magazine article Screen International

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Debbie Isitt. UK. 2014. 105mins

Christmas comes early to unsuspecting British cinema screens with the release of festive family sequel Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!, a freewheelingly silly comedy romp aimed fair-and-square at young ones as well as those parents who helped make the previous two films such successes in the UK. This time round the filmmakers opt (rather oddly) for a more straightforward and almost grown-up storyline that lacks much of the childlike charm that made the first films so successful, an while there are pockets of innocent humour and childish antics it lacks a much-needed sense of fun.

Martin Clunes appropriately, given his character has lost his memory, plays things pretty straight, while the talented Catherine Tate curbs her natural comedy skills as a woman confused by being faced with a very different man than the one she knew before.

That being said, if the surprise success of the first two films are anything to go by, this early entry to the Christmas movie marketplace may well strike an early chord with UK families keen to get into the festive spirit, and with few Christmas-themed films set to hit screens it could well hang in there over the holiday period.

The first Nativity! was a real low-budget surprise, focussing on small children at a Coventry school, while its sequel, Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger saw the youngsters head off to a singing competition in Wales. This time round no expenses are being spared (well, that isn't quite true, because this is still a modestly budgeted film) with the children entering a flash-mob competition in London with the final set to take place in Manhattan.

What made the films so successful was the combination of the engagingly inept singing-and-dancing comedy antics of the young children (all pretty much improvising) combined with the often-hilarious antics of man-child would-be teacher Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton). This time round we do get some classic Mr Poppy moments (particularly his 'Snow Pig' routine, of which more later), but for some reason this time round writer/director Debbie Isitt decides to give the game youngsters a lower profile and layer in more story (such as it is) and a series of rather inept musical routines. It means the film is often ponderous, particularly towards the end, when it should be pacy, and sentimental when it should be plain old silly.

Each new Nativity film brings a new teacher into the fold. …

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