O come on Em­manuel!

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILMREVIEWS - TARA BRADY

NA­TIV­ITY 2: DAN­GER IN THE MANGER! ★ Di­rected by Deb­bie Isitt. Star­ring David Ten­nant, Jes­sica Hynes, Marc Woot­ton, Pam Ferris, Ian McNe­ice, Joanna Page, Ja­son Watkins G cert, gen­eral re­lease, 105 min WHAT DO YOU mean, there’s a sec­ond one?

Deb­bie Isitt at­tracted crit­i­cal m’ehs and half-hearted thumbs up for her 2007 com­edy Con­fetti, a whim­si­cal im­prov ses­sion built around Bridezil­las and naked English telly peo­ple on bi­cy­cles. Na­tiv­ity, the di­rec­tor’s 2009 fol­low-up, brought the same method­ol­ogy to low-rent Christ­mas porn. We were pre­pared to let that film’s half-hearted plot­ting slide on ac­count of its cheap sea­sonal cheer and some charm­ing turns from Martin Free­man and Ash­ley Jensen.

Un­hap­pily, that ear­lier, fairly crummy pic­ture now seems like FW Mur­nau’s Sun­rise when set be­side the blitzkrieg of aw­ful­ness that is Na­tiv­ity 2: Dan­ger in the Manger!. Note the ex­cla­ma­tion point. It’s “fun!”.

With Free­man safely hob­bit­ing on the other side of the world, it falls to Mr Poppy (BBC3 reg­u­lar Marc Woot­ton) the first in­stal­ment’s ter­tiary, sub­nor­mal side­kick, to come off the bench and make armpit noises. David Ten­nant, who re­ally ought have enough resid­ual Doc­tor Who zing to have avoided step­ping in this project, joins the Isitt panto crew as a pair of war­ring twin broth­ers fac­ing off at an X Fac­tor- in­spired Xmas sin­ga­long. We are not re­minded of Kind Hearts and Coronets.

This is less a cast than a pe­nal bat­tal­ion. Woot­ton tries and tries – in ev­ery pos­si­ble sense – with his hu­man Mr Blobby rou­tine. Ev­ery­body in the film else has their best “not one step back” game face on.

The di­rec­tor knows by now (or should do) that an ad-hoc script is only as good as its con­trib­u­tors. N2! looks and sounds as though it was made by a bunch of five-yearolds from Coven­try be­cause it was, in fact, made by a bunch of fiveyear-olds from Coven­try. So what if they’re “cute“; their idea of script doc­tor­ing runs to “add more flat­u­lence”.

Other caveats in­clude a se­ries of school out­ing-re­lated mis­for­tunes that cross the fine line be­tween com­i­cally hap­haz­ard and Mag­da­lene Laun­dry. A baby is kid­napped! But it’s “fun!”. Note the ex­cla­ma­tion point.

Here’s a Christ­massy-themed no­tion to leave you with: snow­body needs to see this.

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