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Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey? (U)
Running time 109 minutes
Rating: *
Despite serious searching on my part, there does not appear to be an Oscar award for ‘The Actors Working Their Hardest Despite a Feeble Story And A Clunky Script’ – an award that is possibly on a similar par with something along the lines of ‘Best Film in a Totally Incomprehensible Foreign Language’.
The nomination this Christmas for ‘Actors Working Hardest’ and so on is Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey? – a movie certainly in the running for ‘The Film Title With The Most Punctuation Marks’. Incidentally, the ‘Actors…’ award in 2013 and 2012 could have gone to Nativity 1 and Nativity 2.
Written and directed by Debbie Isitt (also responsible for Nat 1+2), the film tells the story of the pupils of St Bernadette’s Primary School, who seem to have regular outbursts of inappropriate singing and dancing, an affliction that in medieval times would have them swiftly led towards the community barbecue event, otherwise known as ‘burn the witch’.
Previous teachers of this crowd have been Martin Freeman, who now plays a very short person with hairy feet in The Hobbit, and David Tennant (you know ‘Who’). This time the new teacher is played by Martin Clunes, who has managed to gather some talented, but possibly gullible, actors around him for this festive frolic.
The narrative is wafer-thin and falls apart on at least two points (how does the wedding ring get recovered the bottom of the lake, and how does Archie the Donkey get from England to New York). But don’t worry about it, it’s the singing and dancing that counts.
Clunes plays Mr Shepherd, brought in to get the school past an Ofsted inspection, which given that resident teaching assistant Mr Poppy, is a) unqualified, b) has no CRB clearance, and c) is an idiot, looks unlikely.
In the mayhem and after a nasty incident, Clunes loses his memory – something he might have devoutly wished for – and forgets a major event in his life.
For some reason, and I forget what, it is decided to get the school involved in a flashmob competition – which for those of you not into the music of modern beat combos – is dancing in inappropriate places without warning (get the barbecue going).
The girl of the piece is being courted by ex-boyfriend, snake-in-the-grass and flash-dancer Bradley Finch (Adam Garcia) who is trying to replace Shepherd in her affections while in New York (keep up), but after much singing and dancing and several twists of the plot, it all turns out much as could be expected.
A wedding takes place involving the right people and Archie the Donkey is fine. His acting is the star turn and he should be in hot contention for ‘The Animal Working with the Most Desperate Humans’ award.
Given that we may be running out of British actors prepared to take on such nonsense, and that this film is up against the latest instalment of The Hobbit, I can foresee a swift move to children’s DVD for Nativity 3 where I suspect it will be a smash hit with the under-sevens.
I can also foresee the revival of certain sequences when chat show hosts need to embarrass guest actors (Martin Clunes’ singing).

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