2014-12-24, 5:14 p.m.
I haven't done much today beyond get gas and go to grocery stores and otherwise putter, but I did manage to install a new Internet modem ON MY OWN WITHOUT CALLING TECH SUPPORT and now my Internet works again, so I'm very relieved and delighted. Now I'm waiting for Mom to show up, so I think I'll post an entry while I still can:
I forget where I saw someone recommending watching Nativity!, a British comedy from 2009. Anyway, I added that to the Netflix queue thinking that would give us something to watch (and me to write up here) on Christmas Eve. I'm going to spoil the whole darned thing, but then again, it's Hollywood and you've probably already guessed how the plot ends, eh?
The plot is simple: Paul Maddens is a grade school teacher who originally wanted to be an actor. We see flashbacks to him and his girlfriend Jennifer and other friend Gordon in acting school. But now everyone's moved on. Jennifer's some kind of executive producer in Hollywood who walked out on Paul when he was ready to propose (and that's really all they explain about that), and Gordon's a rival schoolteacher who puts on a big Christmas show every year. This year Paul gets dubbed to put on the nativity play and when confronted by Gordon about it, makes a big ol' whopping lie about how his Hollywood ex is going to come to the show.
Paul has recently been handed an assistant, one Desmond Poppy, whose sole attribute to hiring is nepotism because he's the principal's nephew. Mr. Poppy is....pretty much one giant big kid. Very nice kid, but he does not do authority figure worth a damn. Anyway, Mr. Poppy overheard this lie, spreads it around to everyone and elaborates ("in 3-D!") and by the time Mr. Maddens gets his boots on and heads to work, the entire town is going nutterpants over HOLLYWOOD COMING!!!!! and the local media has arrived and awkwardness ensues.
Paul drags his feet on trying to contact Jennifer, and when he leaves a message he gets no response. (Mr. Poppy, on the other hand, sends Jennifer a charming video of the kids pleading with her to take Mr. Maddens back. Even I got choked up.) So he eventually gets on a plane to try to see her in person, and while he talks Mr. Poppy out of forcefully coming along, Mr. Poppy eventually forces Paul to bring two of his kid stars along, being all, "See, I got permission slips!" They arrive in Hollywood, eventually get in, and find out that Jennifer's a secretary. And her producer boss isn't interested in going.
This part of the movie actually goes on for longer than you'd think. Much to Paul's surprise, those permission slips were ah...not exactly existent? Badly forged on the part of Mr. Poppy, I think, though I didn't get a great glimpse of them. (Also makes you wonder WHERE THE HELL DID THE PARENTS THINK THE KIDS HAD GONE FOR DAYS?! This is never answered.) Anyway, since that's kidnapping, and Mr. Maddens is a lying liar, Mr. Poppy is sacked immediately and Mr. Maddens will be sacked at the end of term. Reality and sadness ensue. Also, the rival teacher puts on his show: "Herod: A Christmas Tale" because nobody's done Herod before. There's a lot of screaming "Where's my baby?" and what looks like a collection of aborted fetuses tied in scarves being thrown around, right onto the reviewer. There's a reason why nobody does Herod.
But of course despite the show being canceled, somehow Paul decides to put it on again, and gets the same fancypants cathedral location they were supposed to be in before for Hollywood, and HOO BOY, THIS IS ONE AMAZING MUSICAL. It has really, really good songs in it. They admittedly lean a bit on the side of a romance than anything else, but they're so well done I wish I could hear them sung by adults rather than awkward kids (though the girl playing the Star of Bethlehem singing "Sparkle and Shine" is pretty dang good). At one point a James Brown Angel just descends from the top of the cathedral to sing about good news. There is a random helicopter out of nowhere for....some reason. There's a lovely boy band-ish song sung to... the Star, I think? There's songs about how cool it is to be in Bethlehem, there's songs about Mary and Joseph trying to make it work under the weird circumstances.... I REALLY WISH I COULD GET THIS AS AN ALBUM. (Can't find it, though.)
Of course Jennifer and her boss show up, and at one point Gordon hops on stage to denounce Paul as a lying liar who lies, and one kid blows out the power, but the show still goes on and it's awesome. Seriously, the musical alone is just fabulous.
There is a sequel one can stream on Netflix: Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, and a third one, Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey? I can't find the third one, but apparently it's bad.