The pupils of St. Bernadette’s school face their biggest challenge yet; they are entered into a flash mob competition with the threat of a school inspection hanging over them.
Let’s be honest here, the Nativity franchise of films are aimed at children under the age of six, and there is nothing smart or sophisticated about them; the gags hinge on slapstick, toilet humour and grown-ups doing silly things, and the whole thing feels like a pantomime on the big screen. This is not a criticism, however, simply a statement of fact.
The cast do well with what they are given. Marc Wootton throws himself into the role of the slightly simple but incredibly earnest Mr Poppy, and Martin Clunes surrenders to the inherent silliness of the film and his role, and obviously rolls with it. Catherine Tate tones down the brash, shouty character she is known for, and has some incredibly sweet moments with the younger members of the cast, and Celia Imrie goes for it, making her head teacher character shouty, mean and a little less smart than she should be. The kids do well too, with Lauren Hobbs shining through the ranks.
The trouble that arises with the film stems from the writing, and the script by Debbie Isitt; the whole shebang feels like a pantomime, with some elements from the most melodramatic soap operas thrown in for good measure. Plot holes abound everywhere, but as director, Isitt makes the whole experience fun and colourful enough to cover these holes even slightly. Adults in the audience will wonder where the parents of these kids are, why ambulances aren’t called and when airport security became so lax. Reactions are rarely what they should be in Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey, and all the talk of flash mobs dates the film instantly. That said, there is plenty here for the wee ‘uns in the audience, it’s just not very smart.
In all, Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey is a hot mess of a movie, with some sweetness thrown in from the relationships, and lots of bright colours. Characters are one dimensional, plot holes litter the film and the songs are a little cringe inducing, but kids are sure to love it, and Martin Clunes has to be commended for his commitment to his role. Young kids will love Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey, everyone over the age of 6, however, will not.