There are so many plot holes in this silly British holiday sequel that the script hardly seems to exist at all. As in the previous two Nativity! movies, the emphasis is on Christmas wackiness, with inane set pieces designed only to keep small children giggling. Writer-director Debbie Isitt clearly isn't interested in connecting these scenes together into something more than vaguely coherent, asking us to just go with it. And if you can do that, you might have some fun with this.
Once again, it's all change at St. Bernadette's School in Coventry. This time there's a new headmistress in the humourless, astonishingly unobservant Mrs Keen (Celia Imrie). She sensibly sacks the dopey teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) and instead hires "super-teacher" Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes), who immediately gets rid of Poppy's donkey, the class mascot. In the process though, Shepherd takes a blow to the head and loses his memory, which is a problem because he's due to get married to Sophie (Catherine Tate) in New York. So Shepherd's daughter Lauren (Lauren Hobbs) teams up with Poppy to get the kids into a flashmob competition that culminates with a final round in, of course, Manhattan. The problem is that the competition is being organised by Sophie's preening ex Bradley (Adam Garcia), who wants her back.
Issitt keeps the film moving at such a hyperactive pace that there's barely time to notice that nothing about this story makes any sense. But before we can say, "Wait a minute!" the film has already lurched into a corny slapstick sequence or a big musical number performed with screechy karaoke-style authenticity. Although the songs are packed with clever hooks and repeated so many times that they're impossible to get out of our heads. Oddly, the children are sidelined in this movie, appearing at random for a bit of cacophonous mayhem or another pastiche holiday number. Only Hobbs registers as a character.
Continue reading: Nativity 3: Dude Where's My Donkey?! Review
With the recent release of 'Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!', it appears that certain film franchises can survive.
Not all franchises are created equal. The release of 'Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!' shows that sometimes audiences just want a bit of silly escapism rather than more ambitious attempts to wow us with effects and bigger/better plotlines.
This certainly isn't unprecedented: other thoroughly silly franchises include 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' (3 movies), 'Spy Kids' (4), 'Step Up' (5), 'Scary Movie' (5) and 'Tyler Perry's Medea' (7 and counting). And an argument could be made for including 'The Expendables' (3 and counting) on this list.
Mr. Shepherd is the new teacher at St Bernadette's Catholic School in Coventry who is eager to propose to his friend Sophie, to the delight of his young daughter who wants so badly to have a new mother by Christmas. Meanwhile, the school has also gained a new headmistress, Mrs. Keen, who deeply disapproves of the school's favourite teacher - the ever child-like Mr. Poppy - and their pet donkey Archie. The latter pet-peeve is probably for a good reason as soon enough, Mr. Shepherd finds himself deeply concussed after being kicked by Archie, completely forgetting who he is, where he is, where Archie is and, more importantly, that he's soon to be married on Christmas Eve in New York. Mr. Poppy and the class decide to band together to get him to his bride by joining a flash mob, where the top prize is a trip to the Big Apple. Will the class succeed in their latest endeavour and make this Christmas the best yet?
When this South African animated adventure embraces its unique setting and characters, it's visually stunning and a lot of fun. But it also tries to force everything into a trite Hollywood formula, unnecessarily adding clunky songs, goofy comedy sidekicks and big action set-pieces. Still, there's enough fresh storytelling and lively humour to keep us engaged, and some spectacular animation too.
It's set in the Great Karoo desert, where a herd of zebras has fenced off its own watering hole. But as a drought sets in, bullied half-striped zebra Khumba (voiced by Jake T. Austin) becomes worried about the animals outside. When he hears about a mythical pond that can restore his stripes and supply water to everyone, he leaves his best pal Tombi (AnnaSophia Robb) to take an epic trek across the desert. Along the way he picks up a variety of goofy travelling companions, including a hyena (Steve Buscemi), buffalo (Loretta Devine) and ostrich (Richard E. Grant). But he's also hunted by the vicious half-blind leopard Phango (Liam Neeson), who blames Khumba for his own hot-tempered misfortunes.
The animators far surpass the simplistic script with imagery that takes the breath away, from expansive landscapes to cleverly designed characters. And as the wacky sidekicks continually try to push the film over into slapstick silliness, the startlingly violent Phango reminds us of the darker side of nature as well as some deeper African cultural issues. This mix sometimes feels jarring, but that works in the film's favour. As do some inspired comical gags involving, for instance, a nutty sheep (Catherine Tate), a gang of hilariously agreeable meerkats and a herd of dumb-jock springboks.
Continue reading: Khumba Review