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Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!


Stars: David Tennant, Marc Wootton, Pam Ferris, Jason Watkins, Joanna Page, Ian McNeice, Jessica Hynes, Ben Wilby, Sam Young, Eleanor Grant, Ethan Smith, Scott Folan

Director: Debbie Isitt

Danger in the Manger! is not so much a sequel as a rehash.

But why tinker too much with a successful box-office formula?

The original found bland and boring Martin Freeman being bland and boring as a teacher riding herd on a bunch of young pupils while producing the school play. Here (with Freeman having fled to work barefoot in New Zealand in ‘The Hobbit’) one-time ‘Dr Who’ and celebrated stage ‘Hamlet’ Tennant plays a teacher charged with bringing a choir of school kids to success in a national ‘Song for Christmas’ competition. He also appears as his acid twin brother, perhaps on the basis that a dual role would save money rather than casting a different actor in the role.

Tennant deserves some sort of praise (or, more realistically, a modicum of sympathy) for fortitude in the face of overwhelming juvenilia but, after all, he was being paid so the pain was presumably bearable. Other adults involved, including returnees Ferris as the headmistress and Wootton as a teacher, include McNiece, and Page as Tennant’s pregnant wife – cue an acutely embarrassing scene in which she gives birth in a stage manager surrounded by kids.

Having said that, Christmas-wishing kids will almost certainly enjoy themselves, especially when watching adults behaving badly.

But consenting adults accompanying children to see this “seasonal family treat” would be well advised to take a torch, a good book and earplugs – the latter for drowning out both the soundtrack and the possible juvenile laughter in the auditorium as the on-screen children behave very badly indeed, singing off-key to upset their tutors, farting to order and generally reacting like children who are understandably over-excited at being in a ‘real’ film instead of the interminable and far too frequent ‘movies’ their parents film on their smartphones.

(And I’d advise diabetics to bring a syringe filled with insulin as a much-needed antidote to Isitt’s sugar-sodden screenplay and matching direction).

PS. Ratings: For youngsters 7/10. Adults: 3/10

Alan Frank

UK 2012. UK Distributor: E1 films. Colour.
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Nov 2012