The fourth instalment in the Nativity! franchise, this Christmassy comedy is aimed at seven to nine year old kids who like middle of the road rock music and poo jokes, and brings bad tidings for anyone in the cinema who falls outside that demographic.
As with the previous movies from writer/director Debbie Isitt, the story is set at St Bernadette’s primary school in Coventry. Childlike school helper Mr Poppy, one of the most irritating screen characters ever created, has left for Australia, but don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, grown ups, as he’s replaced by his even more annoying long lost brother Jerry Poppy (Lipkin, attempting to channel Jack Black in School Of Rock).
Jerry turns up and is hired by headmistress Mrs Keen (Imrie) – despite him clearly being unable to take care of himself, let alone a group of children – and he’s just in time to help the pupils (and strait-laced teacher Mr Johnson) enter a rock musical competition that will be judged by a flamboyant Simon Cowell wannabe by the name of Emmanuel Cavendish (Strictly Come Dancing’s enjoyable Revel Horwood, complete with flowing mane and gravy-coloured fake tan).
You’d think there would be lots of opportunities in the movie to see the kids performing rock songs (surely the main appeal for the tots watching), but Isitt instead has decided to throw too many other elements into the mix, including appearances from a host of British comic actors (Ruth Jones as a farmer and Jessica Hynes as TV personality Angel Matthews are the most under used), a potential romance for Mr Johnson, and a jarring Syrian refugee plot thread that has new Bernadette’s pupil Doru searching for his dad after they were separated when they arrived in England.
It’s all a complete mess – only the town of Coventry comes off well – culminating in a town nativity extravaganza that makes no sense whatsoever. The worst of the Nativity movies so far (there is a fifth in the works), it’s only the well-meaning central theme of everyone having a family and love at Christmas that saves it from being a complete yuletide turkey.
Is Nativity Rocks! suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There are no scary moments in the movie. Very young viewers may be upset by the opening scene when Doru is separated from his father, and there are references to his mother’s death.
There is some mild rude humour – poo and wee jokes, a dog pees on a teacher’s foot, etc.
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