Writer/Director: Debbie Isitt
Running time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U
UK Release date: 27th November 2009
Watched on Sky+ Wednesday 26th December 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Not the kind of film I’d usually pick but since it’s Christmas I thought I might give it a go. It wasn’t as bad as I expected and I have to say I was quite impressed with some of the talent on the screen (I mean the kids). For about three quarters of its length it’s the usual predictable story line (see summary below) but at the end it really pays off! Here’s that summary before I give you my thoughts.
We begin with three friends, drama students Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman), Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins) and Jennifer Love (Ashley Jensen). Paul and Jennifer are together for a while but eventually they all drift apart; Paul and Gordon go into teaching at rival schools and Jennifer goes to Hollywood to work as a Producer (we’re told). Every year Gordon’s school wins a five-star review in the local paper and Pauls’ Head Teacher, Mrs Bevan (Pam Ferris), wants her school to get the plaudits for a change. She picks Paul to produce the Nativity play in this, her final year and puts he son-in-law, the simple minded Mr. Poppy (Marc Wootton) in Paul’s class as a classroom assistant to help out. Now, Mr. Poppy is very enthusiastic but doesn’t always think things through and so you can tell there’s going to be trouble. It rears its head when he witnesses a chance meeting between Paul in Gordon where Paul tries to get one over on Gordon by saying that he’s been in touch with Jennifer in Hollywood and they’re going to make a film of his play. Of course Mr. Poppy reports back and it soon all over the news! Paul is in a huge dilemma because, in reality, he hasn’t spoken to Jennifer in five years! Let the madness begin!
What starts out as a bit of a run-of-the-mill comedy about a small school putting on a Nativity play ends up as something totally different. Yes, it’s (for the most part) fairly easy stuff to watch with, it has to be said, some nice performances. I thought Martin Freeman (pre-Bilbo) did a very good job and Marc Wootton, although I found his character a bit creepy, was also pretty good. No, for me, the stars of the show were the kids (too many to name individually here sadly). They did a very good job in all the events leading up to the end, but really shine in the performance of the play (which is really great by the way!). I guess the film did its job and gave me that feel-good factor I have been missing! Would I watch it again… Well maybe just the last quarter when I need a little boost!...
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.1/10
IMDb Score: 6.2/10 (based on 1,775 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 68/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 1,037 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at: