With dodgy CGI scenes from Sharknado 2 fresh in my mind, hopes were not high for another questionable sequel; this time the third instalment of the Nativity. Quite unbelievably, someone has managed to stretch the japes of a fairly annoying Mr Poppy into three feature-length films, and this time without even the help of the hapless Martin Freeman or that one from Dr Who.
While I'm the first to break out the tinsel and mulled wine in November, Nativity 3 tested the limits of even my festive barometer. The original film was brilliant, hilariously reminiscent of every primary school up and down the country which valiantly attempts to stage Jesus' birth each year – though with fewer tea towels on heads. I also unashamedly enjoyed the sequel, when Mr Poppy was still endearing and the children all looked like they were probably about the right age.
This is where I think the third attempt went a bit wrong. Unqualified teaching assistant Mr Poppy has lost his charm, and is now relentlessly irritating. His attempt to help new teacher Mr Shepherd, played by Martin Clunes, regain his memory is hashed into a weak plot involving a flash mob competition and a wedding in New York, and nothing really makes sense at all. If nothing else, it remains unclear why the school is able to call animal services to remove Archie the donkey, but cannot seem to get hold of the police to escort a grown man off the premises over the course of three years.
Furthermore, half the children in the class look like they should be in year 9, braces and all, and serve no purpose other than to look awkwardly tall and sing a bit badly. Add to that Catherine Tate, a hotel porter with a terrible American accent and songs that aren't a patch on the soundtrack from the original, (Dude, where's my donkey? is an actual lyric) and the whole thing just crumbles.
Of course, it's all just a bit of fun, and maybe I'm being a bit of a scrooge. Normally, I'd probably give it one star, but given it's Christmas, I'll make it two.
If you're still determined to make the most of Christmas cheer and will be heading to the cinema, Damaris has put together free resources online to help families and youth groups engage with the film. You can find them here.