Starring Martin Freeman (TV’s The Office and 2006’s “˜The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’), it is the story of a primary school teacher who in an attempt to position (and defend) his school as one that is going places, exaggerates to an old school rival that his Hollywood connections are coming to watch his schools Nativity play that his is producing. This small white lie snowballs big time and before Freeman knows where he is, the local press, TV news and Council are aware of his “˜achievement’ and praise him for turning the school around.
His tall tale and the consequences it creates aren’t all down to Freeman but also from supporting actor Marc Wooton, who plays his Classroom assistant “˜Mr Poppy’. Wooton simply wants to make the pupils happy and help put on the best Christmas nativity ever. But his naivety only exacerbates the situation.
Freeman heads up a solid all-star British cast which includes Extras and Ugly Betty actress Ashley Jensen, comedian Alan Carr and UK TV legends Pam Ferris and Ricky Tomlinson. But the real nod must go to both director / writer and Debbie Isitt and the cast of children who make this film so enjoyable. The children are first class. Not sickly sweet, overly confident but natural kids who you would expect to see at any local primary school.
Check out the trailer here to see what I mean.
Directed Isitt, she has truly made a great film that works on so many levels. An ideal family film with no uncomfortable moments, swearing or violence but a feel good factor with lots of enjoyable laugh out loud moments that you take with you when you leave the cinema.
Given this is a low budget film (BBC Films) there are a few moments when on the big screen the script, storyline and production does get a bit stretched, rushed and almost uncomfortably out of its depth on such a large canvass. Without wanting to spoil the ending, more time to invest in this or the character development wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Given a larger production budget and marketing budget (i.e. the kind spent on Love Actually) and possibly an “˜album’ soundtrack this could have made a bigger impact and been as significant as The Full Monty. So if you want to avoid Vampires, the World ending and if you’re happy to go with the flow, forgetting the realities of today’s schooling rules and regulations then you are in for a treat. The 20 minute musical finale is stunning and totally captures the feeling of the school Nativity.
Enjoy, take the kids and Merry Christmas!