Three years after the surprise hit Nativity! comes this follow-up that suffers a bit from sequelitis – while it’s a simple slice of seasonal family entertainment it’s just not as cute or funny as the original.
Enthusiastic, childlike Mr Poppy (Wootton) is the teaching assistant for a teacherless class at St Bernadette’s (every potential applicant for the teaching position soon runs a mile), and despite the fact that all he seems to do is instruct the kids to fart and fib, none of the parents of the little tots have called in OFSTED to complain. He’s desperate for the kids to enter a national Song For Christmas competition in Wales and when new teacher Mr Peterson (Tennant) joins the school, Mr Poppy tries to rope him into a clearly bonkers plan of taking the kids to Wales without telling the school or any of the parents.
So begins a road trip that has some funny moments but is bogged down by one big problem – there’s far too much Mr Poppy (who, quite frankly, has gotten very annoying) and not enough of the kids. The first film was so charming because a group of untrained children were centre-stage and their performances were pretty adorable, whereas here it’s more of an odd couple comedy as Poppy and Peterson argue and pout whilst herding the kids through the Welsh countryside.
If you can get past the fact that in real life the characters would be in prison for kidnapping (including a baby!) and child endangerment, this is pretty inoffensive stuff for Christmas (although parents should note that one of the final scenes involves a character giving birth in a barn while watched by the children which is frankly bizarre) with nice performances from Tennant (as Petersen and his high-achieving twin brother Roderick), Jason Watkins (as rival school headmaster Gordon Shakespeare) and Jessica Hynes (as the biased host of the X-Factor style song competition).
Is Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...