Christmas Countdown Day 3: Nativity

Failed actor and current primary school teacher, Mr Madden, is being driven insane when his delusional teaching assistant Mr Poppy spreads a lie to the whole town. When they all expect Hollywood to appear at their school nativity play, problems begin to escalate. Can they save the show and make it up to all the children? Probably.

A British classic at this point. I think it’s strange how a series so cheap and undeniably naff can feel so fundamental to a British Christmas. I feel every British actor needs to hit a low-point in their career and needs to helm a Nativity! movie at least once.

Mr Poppy is maybe one of the most unlikable characters in cinematic history. I have wasted far too much energy hating this buffoon, worried at the state of a world where he can be let within 10-feet of a child. I do admit he knows how to throw a good play, and he’s got some banging songs in him.

To demonstrate how disturbed he is; Mr Madden looks after the dog of his ex-girlfriend who moved to Hollywood, and Mr Poppy thinks this might be a way to get in contact with them. His solution is to go to her parents house behind Madden’s back, and tell them that he had killed her dog by stuffing him with firecrackers, “because his name was Cracker”.

That was bad, but in the penultimate act he tricks Madden into actual kidnapping. At the airport when Madden is about to fly to America Poppy brings two of the children, suggesting he take them to help pursuade the Hollywood executives. After triple-checking with Poppy that he had parental permission and had all the release forms, he does take them for one or two days. Upon his return to the school he finds out that Poppy was lying about getting permission, and they are both promptly fired. Insanity.

This may be the closest British equivalant to The Cable Guy, Poppy being a nightmarish blight on society that drags the protagonists through the plot kicking and screaming, never facing the consequences of his actions.

As someone who has hated child-actors ever since being a child, I am surprisingly not bitter towards this bunch of sprogs. They aren’t amazing singers or dancers, or actors really, but in their simple shit-ness they are quintessentially British, and it really adds to the charm of the movie.

Half the movie is just Martin Freeman being nice to these kids while they make bad jokes or say weird things, and it’s probably the better half of the movie. He gives off very-warm Geography teacher vibes, and seems to have a way with them.

The songs actually have some decent lyrics which I didn’t remember, and surprisngly risqué for a play filled with under-10s. Poppy should be hired as a play consultant more than a teacher I think.

These films aren’t good, but I do think people should watch them. The camera work and budget look more like a TV-Show than any movie, and it’s almost astounding to think I saw this in cinemas when it looks cheaper than any Netflix Christmas special around. With all the Americanisation of Christmas movies and celebrations, it is nice to see a very British film now and again like this though. Tomorrow’s review: The Muppet Christmas Carol!

Published by James Sumner

Writer, reviewer & journalist. BA: Multimedia Journalism. MA: PR & Digital Comms.

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