‘Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Jeremy Shepherd’s Flashmob

This is where the ‘Nativity’ film series began to go downhill for me. 😦

‘Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!’ is the third instalment of the ‘Nativity’ film series. At the time of seeing this ‘Nativity’ film on DVD in January 2018, it was the latest film of the series so far. This was before the fourth ‘Nativity’ film ‘Nativity Rocks!’ got released at cinemas in November 2018.

The third ‘Nativity’ film was released at cinemas in November 2014. It stars Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate in it, both of whom I’ve seen in ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve also seen Martin Clunes in Series 2 of ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ where he played ‘Barmy’ Fotheringay Phipps (Fungy-Phipps as it sounds 😀 ).

He also did 2002’s ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips’.  You may know him as ‘Doc Martin’ though. 😀 The film also features Marc Wootton, Adam Garcia, Ralf Little, Jason Watkins and Celia Imrie. I must admit, I didn’t find the third film to be as good as the first two ‘Nativity’ movies when I saw them as a trilogy.

This is a shame as I think ‘Nativity 3’ could’ve been a good movie if it wasn’t so messy. And yes, I know the nature of the films is for improvising dialogue as encouraged by the film’s director Debbie Isitt. That’s fine, but it doesn’t look consistent when you view every ‘Nativity’ film as a whole here. 😐

I still enjoyed Martin Clunes as Jeremy Shepherd in the film. Incidentally, Martin Clunes was in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Snakedance’ with Peter Davison and he had to wear a funny costume in that. 😀 I must admit, Martin Clunes is an odd choice as the star of the film compared to  the first two movies.

I say that because Martin Freeman and David Tennant are relatively younger compared to Martin Clunes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with him being in this movie. It’s just, I’m not sure why Martin Clunes would say ‘yes’ to doing this kind of Christmas kids’ film since he has a varied acting career. 😐

Also, this might sound a bit strange but…Martin Clunes isn’t really the driving force behind this movie. In the first two movies, they had opening and closing narration by Martin Freeman and David Tennant. You identified with them as characters and how they go on their very own unique journeys.

Here, there isn’t an opening narration or a closing narration by Martin Clunes. The opening narration is done in the form of a letter to Santa by Martin Clunes’ character’s daughter Lauren Hobbs as Lauren Shepherd. I don’t know why Martin Clunes didn’t open the beginning and end of the film. 😐

Wouldn’t it make sense if Martin Clunes narrated the opening and the ending of the film considering he’s the main character and Martin Freeman and David Tennant did the tasks themselves for their ‘Nativity’ movies? Did Martin Clunes refuse to do the narration bits or is there another reason here?

Maybe Debbie Isitt was trying to do something different with the setup in the third film as opposed to the first two films, but it causes an inconsistency when you watch the ‘Nativity’ film series from beginning to end. This is especially concerning the film’s plot and how the film ends on a messy note.

I’ll get onto talking about the messing ending ‘Nativity 3’ has later on. Anyway, Martin Clunes as Jeremy Shepherd is about to get married to Catherine Tate as Sophie O’Donnell. They’re to wed in New York. Catherine Tate is known for playing Donna Noble in ‘Doctor Who’ with David Tennant’s Doctor.

At St. Bernadette’s school, Marc Wootton as Mr. Poppy and the kids sign up to do a flashmob in a flashmob competition. It’s hosted by a famous flashmobber, Adam Garcia as Bradley Finch (never heard of him! 😀 ) The winners’ prize will be to go to New York to dance on the Empire State Building. 😐

When Martin Clunes’ Jeremy Shepherd comes to St. Bernadette’s with his daughter Lauren, Mr. Poppy and the new headmistress Celia Imrie as Mrs. Keen assume he’s the ‘super teacher’ who’s come to tidy the place up before an Ofsted inspector comes. The inspector could close the school! 😮

Now for a while, the story has Jeremy Shepherd being the guy who gets involved with Mr. Poppy and the kids trying to win this flashmob competition to go to New York. That would have been a great storyline especially if this jeopardised Jeremy’s chances of reuniting with Sophie and marrying her. 😐

But then we have this plot element introduced. In the movie, Jeremy gets hit on the forehead by Mr. Poppy’s pet donkey Archie. And would you know it? He actually loses his memory. He forgets who he is; who his daughter Lauren is, who Mr. Poppy and the kids are, and forgets he is to marry Sophie!

This plot device of Shepherd losing his memory! It doesn’t work! At least, not in the way the people who made this film wanted it to. I’d be fine with him losing his memory if he had a few traces of recalling his daughter. He may have forgotten, but there might be something he recognises in her. 😐

Instead, he’s played out to have forgotten everything, including when he was a little boy and what he used to love about Christmas. I don’t think that quite works on an emotional level, especially as Mr. Poppy and the kids try to help him to recall who he was before he got knocked on the head. 😐

I also think it would’ve been funnier if Jeremy got knocked on the head again and he remembered for a bit before he got knocked on the head again and forgot again. They could’ve used that joke if they were brave. Heck, they almost did it at one point, but it turns out he’s still forgetful about who he is. 😦

Also, I think it would’ve been better if Jeremy, Mr. Poppy and the kids told Sophie that the man she loves has lost her memory. That way, Sophie could’ve helped Jeremy to recall the love they had for each other rather than have it be kept as a secret, which I don’t understand why it had to be a secret.

Heck, why didn’t even Lauren tell Sophie that her daddy lost her memory, since she wants her to be her mummy. I also don’t understand why Sophie’s family didn’t support her marrying Jeremy, as they seemed to be against him and wanted her to marry Bradley Finch, whom she previously ditched, instead.

I did say that I enjoyed Martin Clunes as Jeremy Shepherd and he does give an enjoyably entertaining performance in the movie. Since Martin Clunes had done ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips’, he could’ve used his school/teacher experience to help with teaching St. Bernadette’s children here. 😀

I’m sure Martin Clunes enjoyed doing that steam train scene as well as the elf buggy chase scene following an attack upon Father Christmas/Santa Claus. 😀 Very often, the emotional scenes he has with Catherine Tate’s Sophie are very good and it’s interesting how he improvised in some scenes. 🙂

It was lovely to see Catherine Tate in ‘Nativity 3’ after having seen her play Donna in ‘Doctor Who’. She still hasn’t lost that Donna-edge to her in this movie, I don’t think. Even in a ‘Nativity’ film, she’s about to get married. Let’s hope she doesn’t get abducted and meet the Empress of the Racnoss. 😀

It seems clear to me that Catherine Tate’s Sophie loves Lauren just as much as she loves Lauren’s dad Jeremy. I wish we had more scenes of Jeremy and Sophie interacting together as a romantic couple, rather than have Jeremy trying to win Sophie back whilst he also tries to recall who she was.

Marc Wootton is back to play Desmond Poppy in the film. I can’t say I’ve been won over by Mr. Poppy’s character in the ‘Nativity’ films and he does tend to get pretty annoying after a while. Like I said in my ‘Nativity 2’ review, Mr. Poppy stays the same, since he’s immature and can’t read or write.

Makes me wonder why his aunt chose him to be a classroom assistant in the first place?! Even him dressing up in several disguises in the film doesn’t help much. I don’t think he did a convincing Mr. Shakespeare and him dressing up as a maid was weird. Thankfully Jeremy saw through the disguises! 😀

Celia Imrie stars as Clara Keen, the new headmistress at St. Bernadette’s school, replacing Pam Ferris’ Mrs. Bevan. And she’s rubbish in her job! I wish we had Pam Ferris back! I’ve seen Celia Imrie before, since she was in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Bells of Saint John’ with Matt Smith’s Doctor.

Maybe this is what her character ended up becoming. A rubbish school headmistress! When I say ‘rubbish’, I mean she isn’t aware of Mr. Shepherd, Mr. Poppy and certain kids gone missing for a very long time. Also, she spends too much time in her office and she doesn’t know who the inspector is. 😐

And yes, for you to know, it was Jeremy who was the inspector. How come Mrs. Keen didn’t know that?! Jason Watkins returns to play Gordon Shakespeare in the movie. And he’s wasted in this! Don’t get me wrong, he and his kids do take part in the flashmob competition, but that’s all there is!

Apart from him not noticing his school kids’ passports as well as his own being stolen by Mr. Poppy and the St. Bernadette’s kids. In fact, why did he need to be in this film? Doesn’t he wonder what happened to Paul Maddens and Jennifer Lore who he used to be friends with from the first ‘Nativity’ movie? 😐

Adam Garcia stars as Bradley Finch. He was once engaged to be married to Sophie before he ditched him to marry Jeremy Shepherd instead. Bradley is meant to be this famous flashmobber and…Yeah, I prefer Sophie marrying Jeremy since Bradley’s character comes across as very unlikeable in the film.

Again, I don’t know why Sophie’s family and friends would be rooting for her to marry Bradley instead of Jeremy. Bradley is very smug and thinks highly of himself. He can be a pretty mean jerk in trying to separate Jeremy from Sophie, especially once he discovers that he’s lost his memory in the film.

Ralf Little stars as Charlie O’Donnell, Sophie’s brother and Jeremy’s best man at the wedding. And he turns out to be Bradley’s henchman in the film when he helps to separate Jeremy and Sophie marrying each other. Um, why was Charlie chosen to be Jeremy’s best man? Why support Bradley?!!

Shouldn’t he be supporting Jeremy considering he’s his best man? I don’t understand why Sophie’s family and friends would be against Jeremy? Is it because he’s older than Bradley and they think fresh blood is better? Is there something about Jeremy they don’t like? It’s never explained here. 😡

The film also features Stewart Wright as Uncle Henry, who runs the hotel in New York, I believe. There’s Duncan Preston (who I’ve seen in ‘Emmerdale’) as Mr. O’Donnell, Sophie’s father, and Susie Blake as Mrs. O’Donnell, Sophie’s mother. There’s also David Hunter playing Mr. Parker in the film. 😐

Lauren Hobbs is reasonably good playing Martin Clunes’ daughter in the movie. There’s also Niky Wardley as Bridesmaid Bella. She’s worked with Catherine Tate in a number of ‘Doctor Who’-related projects by Big Finish including ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ and she played Tamsin with the Eighth Doctor. And there’s Simon Lipkin playing the Chief Elf in this ‘Nativity’ film. 😐

The film’s ending is pretty absurd, especially when Jeremy, Mr. Poppy and the St. Bernadette’s kids interrupt Sophie’s wedding to Bradley Finch with a song and dance number. This is after a pretty well-performed scene of Sophie turning down Bradley, knowing it’s not right for her to marry him. 🙂

I wish we didn’t have the song and dance number, as that ruined the emotional moment based on Catherine Tate’s performance in the scene. The film also ends abruptly with most of the characters dancing on the top of the Empire State Building. And again, no closing narration to close off the film! 1947’s ‘Good News’ musical number ending was better than ‘Nativity 3’s musical number ending.

The DVD special features are as follows. There are ‘sing-a-longs’ for the two songs ‘Dude, Where’s My Donkey?’ and ‘Our Christmas Song’. There’s also a making-of featurette, two bonus scenes including ‘A Parcel Arrives’ and ‘Dude, Where’s My Dance Off’, and bloopers from the movie.

‘Nativity 3’ isn’t what I would call a masterstroke in terms of a third movie in the ‘Nativity’ film series. It’s decent enough. I did find myself laughing at certain moments of the film and I enjoyed seeing Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate in it. But this film isn’t as good as the first two films for me.

I would’ve liked it if the film handled the memory-loss thing for Jeremy Shepherd better and I wish we had Martin Clunes narrating the beginning and the ending of the film to make it consistent in the film series. It’s a big shame when the film does end on a mess and you can’t feel that good about it here.

‘Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!’ rating – 5/10

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