samreviewsmovies’s review published on Letterboxd:
I went into this one a little hesitant than the first, I’d heard the sequels were weaker but I was expecting something a hell of lot worse than what we got here! It’s actually not that bad, the original was no masterpiece.
You’ll see by the poster Martin Freeman has been replaced by David Tennant, even though it’s pretty obvious Freeman probably wasn’t interested in doing a sequel, in reality I think his story and arc was done with. The film at least does the best thing by not just recasting another actor, Martin Freeman is actually seen in this film but only in picture form. Funnily enough it’s possible that the picture were taken from the first film!
David Tennant at times can feel like a place holder, but does bring a little more class to the production. He does a nice job with what he’s been given, there’s a little character arc throughout the film with him about him wanting to impress his father and be as successful as his twin bother which of course is all wrapped up in the end in what I thought was quite a surprisingly deep way. I still think he was chosen because he was an identifiable actor, most of the budget probably went to getting him. Jason Watkins reprises his role and is another actor that does a nice job withe material, he’s always seemed like an actor that gives his best all the time. But the real stand out character of the film was Mr. Poppy reprised by Marc Wootton.
Mr. Poppy is probably the stand out character of the film for good and bad reasons. The whole “he’s one of the kids” angle was sweet the first time around but you can’t dissect him as real person! There is no way I could picture him in the staffroom making normal conversation. Surprisingly, we do learn a little more about him from this film, there’s a discussion about fathers and he explains he never knew his and as a kid used to pretend Santa Clause was his father, it’s was only a little comment but it did a little reason to why he loves Christmas.
Some of the films scenarios brought on by Mr. Poppy’s actions are a little more silly and over top compared to the first film. As the majority of this film takes place out of the school, it gives the film an excuse to fill the runtime with random scenes like going to see Santa or water rafting...I also thought we’d see Mr. Poppy surely get some jail time on account of kidnapping a baby but judging by the mothers seeming lack of fear or concern, maybe he won’t after all...and that plays into the one thing that irritated me a bit with the film, there are really quite dangerous scenarios that take place in the film and Mr Poppy takes NO responsibility for them! I understand its a kids film but when Tennant RIGHTLY criticises him, the film ends up having HIM be the one to apologise! It didn’t ruin the film but I do think the responsibility angle could have been handled way better! There’s also a scene later on where the headmistress says “this is a police matter unless you get out of the way!”. SURELY IT SHOULD ALREADY BE A POLICE MATTER!? I have a theory that something is going on at this school and the staff don’t want the Police anywhere near the premises!
The comedy in the film is a mixed bag, there are some genuinely funny lines (I actually think I laughed more at this one that the original!) but there’s a lot of fluffy slapstick nonsense obviously playing to the younger audience.
The songs in this film are not as memorable as the ones in the first. Instead of having them all featured for one play, the songs are sang by different acts over the course of the competition that’s taking place. This time around felt a little less cringey but that might be down to it being a larger location and not a bunch of moms and dads in a group smiling.
The film is at least watchable and I was never bored, it’s just as harmless feeling as the first but does ultimately feel like a weaker sequel that caters more towards the younger audience maybe even slightly more than the original did.