REVIEW: Nativity Rocks (U), (100 mins)
After the ghastliness of Overlord a couple of weeks ago and the overbloated ambition of Grindelwald last week, there’s something refreshing about the sentimental gush of Nativity Rocks, a film which shamelessly hits you with every inclusive feel-good message it can think of and still manages to send you out smiling.
It’s wishful thinking at the moment to project an England as welcoming and outward-looking as Nativity Rocks is desperate to have us believe it is, but as the festive season approaches, maybe this kind of wishful thinking has got its role to play – a celebration of what can happen if we all remember to play together nicely.
The gist is that poor, unloved Coventry is desperate to prove itself the Christmas town of the year in a major national rock-opera competition, and in walks just the guy to help the kiddies secure the prize, the supremely-irritating Jerry Poppy (Simon Lipkin).
He announces that he is the brother of a character who featured in the previous Nativity films... the point at which you will probably realise that you can remember absolutely nothing about any of them. The joke is that in a classroom of kids, he is the biggest kid of all – and oddly, everyone simply lets him just wander in off the street and take control of the class.
He’s like an out-of-control children’s TV presenter, but the strange thing is that, if you go with the flow, he actually becomes faintly endearing as he leads you towards converging coincidences and a let’s-go-home happy rock-opera finale. Adding to the poignancy of it all is that the film pulls in a refugee boy and his dad and promptly separates them... you know what will happen in the end.
Persuasively it also tells us that the boy who has got absolutely everything can also be the loneliest boy in the world if he hasn’t got the love and attention of his parents – beautifully played by Anna Chancellor and Hugh Dennis, distracted, busy and ripe for a little bit of emotional re-education.
There is a feeling that all the threads are shoehorned into the finale, but result is still a (slightly-premature) festive glow at the end of it all, a film which is content to be nice – nothing more, nothing less, just really, really nice.