Category: Movie Reviews

The Bad Christmas Movie Challenge: Nativity 3: Dude Where’s My Donkey [2014]

Ahead of the fourth entry in a festive franchise that nobody expected to still be going after almost a decade. I thought it was time to give the third instalment of the Nativity series a go, for reasons that remain unclear as I wouldn’t call myself a fan of this homegrown film series.

All three of the Nativity movies have been made in support of Children In Need, a worthwhile cause that helps millions of at-risk Children every single year. I am all for supporting Children In Need, let me be clear about that. You can pledge money to this year’s fundraiser in a multitude of ways or via this BBC link. Now that I have attempted to make myself feel less like a monster, Nativity 3: Dude Where’s My Donkey was a creative low for the series that never had a high benchmark in terms of quality. The release of Nativity Rocks with a largely new cast might claim that title, but it will likely be a good few years before I get around to watching the latest instalment.

In keeping with the tradition of a new lead character in each movie, David Tennant has regenerated into the grumpier Martin Clunes. Riffing on his comfy chair and warm frothy soup persona as Doc Martin his role as teacher Jeremy Shepherd is not much of a stretch and even he has trouble staying awake. Prepare the cliche-o-meter, Jeremy loses him memory and forgets why he loves Christmas. As if that tawdry excuse for a plot wasn’t bad enough, the school nativity has lost its beloved donkey, and they need to find it pronto to save the show.

To their credit, the affable kids do their best with the largely improvised material, and I’m sure everybody had a jolly nice time making the movie, so it’s a shame none of that enjoyment translated to the end product. The improv gimmick might have worked okay first time round, less so second time and for the third go, some of the cast look uncomfortable with the free reign. Part of the problem with this lazy sequel is it doesn’t have the charms of Martin Freeman or David Tennant to fall back on. Martin Clunes might be edging towards national treasure status for some, but he can’t carry a feature film with his bedside manner. Only Catherine Tate walks away with a shred of dignity, but Marc Wooton’s unbearable Mr Poppy is dialled up to eleven, and his zany antics quickly become so irritating you’ll be willing those end credits to roll.

Had Nativity 3 been a TV special then you could look past its ‘that’ll do’ approach to filmmaking as nothing about this second sequel belongs on the big screen. Had it been on the telly at Christmas where it can be hazily watched after eating too much dinner, that puddingy sweet spot between half asleep and complete food coma. You nod off for ten minutes yet don’t feel you’ve missed anything important, you know they’ll be a singsong at the end so you slip back into dreamy potatoland for another little rest. That’s the place that Nativity 3 can be enjoyed, not enjoyed, tolerated. 

I know that people watch movies (or content as you crazy kids are calling it) on their phones, but there isn’t a screen small enough to make Nativity feel like a cinematic experience. By all means support Children in Need, dress up, have a bath in beans, go on a fun run, bake a cake, but please stop making Nativity sequels. The forthcoming Nativity Rocks is in cinemas later this month if you’re so inclined to see it, or just give Children in Need a donation and save yourself 90 joyless minutes. That said, I just wasted 90 minutes watching Nativity 3, then wrote about it, there are no winners here.

05Nov

The Long Weekend Review

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Colin Eggleston’s eco-horror Long Weekend is finally released on Region 2 Blu-ray. Thanks to Jaws and other animal-attack based movies, this sub-genre was...

28Aug

New Trailer For Drew Goddard’s Bad Times At The El Royale

A brand new trailer has landed for Drew Goddard’s highly anticipated Bad Times At The El Royale. Having written & directed the meta-horror comedy Cabin In The Woods, Goddard shifts gears to a...

26Aug

Sunday Afternoon Movie: The Shadow [1994]

 Alec Baldwin suits up as The Shadow in his first and only foray into the superhero genre. Based on the creation by Walter B. Gibson, The Shadow started life on the radio as part of the Detective Story...

17Aug

The Meg Review

 Much like the titular creature, The Meg is something that feels like it shouldn’t exist in the modern landscape of cinema. Aside from the odd gem like The Shallows or 47 Meters Down, the shark...

13Aug

Mission Impossible Fallout Review [Spoilers Free]

 Twenty-two years after accepting his first Mission, Tom Cruise is back for his sixth go around as IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, and by all accounts, Fallout is the best one yet. Fallout sees a lot of firsts...

21Jun

90 Minutes or Less: The House Review

 When their daughter’s scholarship to attend a prestigious college falls through, straight-laced couple Kate and Scott Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) are faced with mounting college fees...

20Jun

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review [Spoilers]

A vast improvement on 2015’s Jurassic World with director J. A. Bayona taking the franchise into new territory, but it’s still weighed down by the same clunky plotting that’s plagued...