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Film Review: Nativity 3: Dude Where's My Donkey?!

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If you are in a masochistic mood this Christmas or know some children who need punishing, the third and worst instalment in Debbie Isitt's seemingly unstoppable Nativity series should be on your list. It truly is a nightmare of unspeakable proportions; an unintentional horror movie, a screeching wail of atrocious songs and hateful characters. The experience it puts its viewers through is so merciless, so astonishingly painful it is almost spiritual in nature. This is the ultimate poison; more dangerous than heroin and more potent than cyanide.

The excuse for a story sees unqualified, untrained and probably un-CRB checked teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wooton, the connecting link throughout the series) fired from the school by the new head teacher (Celia Imrie; how the mighty have fallen). Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes) is welcomed in as a new 'super-teacher' whose job it is to turn the school round in a matter of days so an impending Ofsted inspection doesn't result in ruin.

When trying to expell Mr Poppy's pet donkey from the school he hits his head, resulting in total memory loss. To make matters worse, he is supposed to be getting married in New York (to Catherine Tate) at Christmas. So with the help of Mr Poppy and the school kids, he begins a journey to recover his lost memories.

This is essentially a hideous attempt to make comedy out of a desperately sad situation; one which blights families the world over. A loved one losing one's memory is not a happy topic and to see it treated with such irreverence is quite breathtaking. The very televisual and cheap-looking cinematography floods the screen with garish colours, probably in the hope to dazzle audiences into thinking what they are watching is magical and Christmassy. It didn't work on me.

The first film, which was co-produced by the BBC, starring Martin Freeman, was watchable enough and even quite funny. All instaments since, especially this one, have been atrocious. This abomination may be awful enough to become a cult classic in the future; a slice of hypnotic dayglow-horror that signified a bizarre and tragic low-point in British family entertainment. Critics walked out en mass at the press screening I attended before the credits rolled. I couldn't leave. For me, once you stare into a mesmerising cultural abyss like this, it is impossible to look away.

Nativity 3: Dude Where's My Donkey?! (2014) is released in UK cinemas on 14 November, Certificate U. 




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