That’s right! It’s both Nativity! season and Hobbit season. Both things are delightfully Martin Freeman-y.
There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus? *
No, sillies. You’re probably thinking of The Nativity Story which is also a good movie but unlike Nativity! is actually about the birth of Jesus.
Nativity! is a good movie. I discovered it this summer, because Christmas movies in the summer is my kind of thing. It stars Martin Freeman as a Catholic school teacher named Paul Maddens (those who can’t act, teach, and those who can’t teach, teach primary) who is charged with running the school’s nativity production, which is apparently a big deal. Thing is, he’s kind of horrible at this whole play-running thing. And he’s also got some room to grow as a teacher when put to the test.
This isn’t to say he’s a bad teacher- his style appeals to his students in that they long to impress him and giggle when he says something sarcastic back. He also cares deeply for his students, but he ends up failing them. Salvation comes to the classroom in the form of a classroom assistant named Mr. Poppy who brings disorder and chaos to every teaching session where he assists Mr. Maddens. He calls Mr. Poppy an ‘actual village idiot’ when given the chance after his classroom descends into chaos.
And it’s true- Mr. Poppy lacks all formal training, and so he’s got no idea how to actually run a classroom. But he knows better than Mr. Maddens how to engage the spirit and heart of his students.
Mr. Maddens’ attitude about his students is revealed when one of his students reveals he overheard him saying they were ‘useless’ to the headmistress of the school. The futility of his teaching style is revealed. The movie is similar to A Christmas Carol in that it’s about Mr. Maddens reclaiming the spirit of Christmas.
Most of all, the kids are cute. I have a friend who almost became a choir teacher, so I recommended he see this movie and described it as ‘cute’ (because the kids literally are adorable.)
“That’s not really the way to sell this movie to me, just so you know. It being ‘cute,’” he said, and probably won’t watch it now I said that.
It’s lighthearted and it’s cute enough to be for children, while it’s also British and sophisticated enough to be for adults. Education majors and seasoned teachers alike will enjoy watching the two teaching styles battle it out, while reflecting on whether they’ve learned the danger in assuming their students are ‘useless.’
Plus, 2013 is bound to be the Year of Martin Freeman due to his role as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, so if you’re presented with two old Martin Freeman movies to watch, say…Swinging With The Finkels and this one? For the love of all that is good, choose this one.
*Good job, those who got that reference. You’re sufficiently into British media and I’d love to be your friend.