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By John Chard January 30, 2017

It's on safe ground. This manger isn't wobbling.

After the pleasing (justified) reaction to 2009s Nativity!, it's not unsurprising to find that two further films would follow it, starting with this, the first of the sequels. Formula remains the same as the first film, here we have David Tennant (great coup by writer and director Debbie Isitt to get him in a dual role) as an harangued teacher out on the road in charge of kiddies as they head towards the National 'Song for Christmas' Competition. Along side him, pulling the the emotional and cunning mental strings, is man-child Mr. Poppy (Marc Wooton once again on film stealing form), enter mirth, poignancy and a raft of engaging kiddies guaranteed to warm the cockles during Yuletide.

This is undeniably Isitt and her team treading on safe ground, which is both a blessing and a curse. For although the finale here - as regards the competition - has a different twist to the first film, it still feels like a redux of that picture - this is because it is. There's also a problem in that the last third is crammed packed with the competition song entries, not to say the songs and routines aren't great (Isitt and editor Nicky Ager co-writing), they are, and it's a nice cross reference of different styles of music. It's just that there comes a point when it veers close to being filler to pad the pic out to over 100 minutes of film, where much of the comedic human drama gets lost in the mix.

However, it's still a warm film, and a real foot tapper that's nice to get involved with at Christmas time. 6/10

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