The Best Kept Christmas Movie Secret


Have you seen Nativity!?

No, not The Nativity Story. And no, I’m not talking about the new film Black Nativity.

I’m talking about this charming Christmas movie that almost no one in America has seen:

I saw this movie a few years ago in Dublin, Ireland, during its Christmas time release in Europe in 2009. Unfortunately, this little Christmas gem never made it across the ocean, so most Americans never got to experience the awesome-ness of this great little Christmas film.

The great news is – it’s now available on Netflix, Amazon, and in other American movie rental outlets – so, everyone can see it now.

Nativity! tells the story of a Catholic school teacher named Paul Maddens (played by Martin Freeman – who most recently played Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit films), who is chosen to direct the school’s Christmas Nativity play. There’s just one problem – Mr. Maddens hates Christmas.

The film begins with lovely flashbacks to a time when Mr. Maddens loved Christmas. Paul was in love and used to celebrate every moment of the Christmas season with his girlfriend, Jennifer. Then one Christmas eve, he went to propose to her, but she broke up with him, and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film production. Jennifer broke Paul’s heart, and in the process – destroyed his love of Christmas.

Paul tries to move on with his life, so he focuses his time and efforts on teaching at St. Bernadette’s. The school is a private Catholic school in a small town somewhere in England, where everyone knows everyone and they all know each others business. Everyone knows Mr. Maddens and the children all love him.

During a school meeting, the principal announces that it will be her last year at the school and she is putting Mr. Maddens in charge of the Nativity play to make sure it’s their best year yet. In previous years, their Nativity play had always been a disaster. Mr. Maddens protested and then dragged his heels, but then steps up to the challenge.

Soon after accepting to direct the Nativity play, he runs into the director of another private school’s Nativity play, the one who always gets the top reviews in the newspaper every year. Mr. Maddens gets away with himself and ends up bragging to the other director that his Hollywood ex-girlfriend is bringing producers from Hollywood to film St. Bernadette’s Nativity play.

This “little white lie” turns into a firestorm that excites every person in the town. The parents start thinking of their kids as “movie stars” and the kids can’t wait to  be “famous”. Mr. Maddens struggles with whether to tell the truth that it was a “lie” or not, but ends up playing along. Madness ensues.

In the end, the truth comes out – and in it, the true meaning and beauty of Christmas is revealed. The whole journey infuses the town with the joy of Christmas and revives Mr. Maddens’ love of Christmas.

This is the must-see film of the Christmas season. It’s good for all ages and everyone will love it.

It’s entertaining, fun, and the music is awesome. The film does a great job portraying Catholicism, as a Church made up of holy, fun, and normal individuals.  The Nativity play holds true to the real Nativity story, while adding some cute and funny fodder into the music and the script.

Nativity! will warm your heart and it will leave you full of joy and ready for Christmas.

“Sparkle and Shine” – It’s Baby Jesus time!


The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Kate Bryan grew up in Michigan, but now resides in Washington, D.C. She holds a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a Masters degree in Public Affairs and Political Communication from the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. Follow her on Twitter at @katembryan.

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