This Christmas, primary school teacher Paul Maddens is charged with producing the school's nativity play. Competing against the posh rival school for the honor of best reviewed show in town, the stakes are raised when Paul idly boasts that his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, a Hollywood Producer, is coming to see his show with a view to turning it into a film. The only trouble is - they haven't spoken in years. With eccentric assistant Mr Poppy fuelling his 'little white lie', Maddens suddenly finds himself a local celebrity and at the center of quarreling parents and over-excited children desperate in their bid for fame and fortune. Maddens' only hope is to get back in touch with Jennifer and lure Hollywood to town so that everybody's Christmas wishes come true.Written by
When TJ has finished singing 'Good News' the harness starts to pull him back up to the spire, he is not wearing his robe, when the camera changes angle we see that he is now wearing his robe. See more »
End-credits dedication: "This film is dedicated to inspirational teachers everywhere." See more »
More a CBBC Christmas TV comedy than a feature film, but a fitfully funny, charming film all the same
Premiering on BBC2 over the Christmas period, I decided to catch-up with it even if I disliked the look of it from the trailer over two years ago. My first impressions were wrong.
Freeman plays his hassled teacher role straight (and very believably) so it's up to Wooton to be the clownish man-child, providing most of the laughs although Freeman has hilariously great 'WTF?' expressions in reaction to his co-star's antics. Ferris is the head, who's like the typical didactic staff member, who just wants to keep everything under control. Carr plays an exaggerated version of himself as a critic, Jensen is sweet as Freeman's ex, Watkin's plays his role broadly, pretty much a panto villain and the kids are alright, with the smallest boy stealing the show at nearly every opportunity. Those who remember Britain's Got Talent from the first series will spot some familiar faces.
The pacing is pretty good and it never felt plodding anywhere, so kudos for the editing - some shots could've been a bit longer, so I could've appreciated a scene more. It does have a very televisual look, as I said and the two primary schools must be the smallest I've ever seen as apart from the main two classes, the schools look pretty empty, so maybe they couldn't they afford extras? The plot is predictable, it had some some manipulatively mawkish scenes (although one main one actually did make me cry as the actor's voice faltered while he was talking) and it did go beyond 'suspension of disbelief' for the ending, but with that exclamation mark in the title, this was always going to be a festive farce, not to be taken too seriously.
The songs remind me of the cheerful exuberance some of Brittania High's songs had, so the Christmas primary school version of that is what the original music reminded me of. I didn't dislike any and would consider buying the OST.
Overall: When the laughs come, it delivers and it had a high laugh count, for me. The drama side isn't so great and feels contrived due to clunky writing. Some of the youngsters have good comic timing and are actually pretty natural when they aren't looking lost/gurning in a scene. But, like Teachers main focus, this about the adults and the kids are just ancillary members. In tone, it's sort of like a spin-off Waterloo Road - The Primary Nativity. It zips along nicely, has a joyful, likable soundtrack and although it had no real reason to be released in cinemas, it's better than I thought it would be and will become an annual watch in my home - 6/10.
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