Directed by Debbie Isitt. Starring David Tennant, Jessica Hynes, Marc Wootton, Pam Ferris, Ian McNeice, Joanna Page, Jason Watkins G cert, general release, 105 min
WHAT DO YOU mean, there’s a second one?
Debbie Isitt attracted critical m’ehs and half-hearted thumbs up for her 2007 comedy Confetti, a whimsical improv session built around Bridezillas and naked English telly people on bicycles. Nativity, the director’s 2009 follow-up, brought the same methodology to low-rent Christmas porn. We were prepared to let that film’s half-hearted plotting slide on account of its cheap seasonal cheer and some charming turns from Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen.
Unhappily, that earlier, fairly crummy picture now seems like FW Murnau’s Sunrise when set beside the blitzkrieg of awfulness that is Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!. Note the exclamation point. It’s “fun!”.
With Freeman safely hobbiting on the other side of the world, it falls to Mr Poppy (BBC3 regular Marc Wootton) the first instalment’s tertiary, subnormal sidekick, to come off the bench and make armpit noises. David Tennant, who really ought have enough residual Doctor Who zing to have avoided stepping in this project, joins the Isitt panto crew as a pair of warring twin brothers facing off at an X Factor-inspired Xmas singalong. We are not reminded of Kind Hearts and Coronets.
This is less a cast than a penal battalion. Wootton tries and tries – in every possible sense – with his human Mr Blobby routine. Everybody in the film else has their best “not one step back” game face on.
The director knows by now (or should do) that an ad-hoc script is only as good as its contributors. N2! looks and sounds as though it was made by a bunch of five-year-olds from Coventry because it was, in fact, made by a bunch of five-year-olds from Coventry. So what if they’re “cute“; their idea of script doctoring runs to “add more flatulence”.
Other caveats include a series of school outing-related misfortunes that cross the fine line between comically haphazard and Magdalene Laundry. A baby is kidnapped! But it’s “fun!”. Note the exclamation point.
Here’s a Christmassy-themed notion to leave you with: snowbody needs to see this.