Genre: Christmas, Comedy, Family.
Starring: Martin Freeman, Jason Watkins, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Alan Carr, Ricky Tomlinson, Pam Ferris, Clarke Peters, Geoffrey Hutchings, Rosie Cavaliero.
Year Of Release: 2009
Certificate: U (UK)
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Director: Debbie Isitt
Synopsis: “An improvised comedy based around a school nativity play.” IMDB
The best out of a current trio of British festive comedy films, this doesn’t win me over as much as it initially did the first time I watched it.
While the cast do a good job, they all seem to come from the Ricky Gervais school of comedy – Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen from ‘The Office’ and ‘Extras’, and everyone else has that habit of trying to make snappy, witty responses to situations that are dead-panned and obviously heavily scripted, but it doesn’t come over as funny or snappy – it’s a little dull and….dare I say amateur? A handful of British comedy talent (Pam Ferris, Ricky Tomlinson and Alan Carr to name a few) pop up as you’d expect, but don’t deliver on the whole.
The notion of comical children with quirky personalities staging a Nativity is appealing and always fun to watch, but these moments are few and far between and overshadowed by the very annoying and stupid Marc Wootton who plays some immature buffoon with a decent heart but awful comedy. He never comes across as funny or appealing, just loud and stupid opposite Freeman’s straight-faced and frustrated Basil Fawlty-cum-David Brent-cum-Victor Meldrew teacher. Jensen isn’t used as much as she could be, obviously finding her transition to America in real-life a problem to appear in a UK based film, and I think she could have brought a lot more to it if given more time with Freeman.
Accompanied by a nice Christmas soundtrack and that underlying Nativity thrill from all primary school children and parents who experience it, there is sadly not much else to really get your teeth into except back and forward verbal sparring between teachers and children, and a series of slapstick and comical mishaps in the run to an ever predictable climax which is 20 minutes too long and very sickly in sentiment.
But it’s a Christmas film, so you can’t expect too much.