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MOVIE REVIEW

The Star also known as “A Estrela de Belém,” “A Estrela de Natal,” “Bo und der Weihnachtsstern,” “L'étoile de Noël,” “Pierwsza gwiazdka,” “Se armó el belén,” “Stjernen,” “Täheke”, «Путеводная звезда»

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
CONTRIBUTOR

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Christmas Animation Family Comedy 3D
Length:
1 hr. 26 min.
Year of Release:
2017
USA Release:
November 17, 2017 (wide—2,837 theaters)
February 20, 2018
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Click to readIs Jesus Christ a MAN, or is he GOD? Answer (for young people)

Is Jesus Christ GOD?

What is the INCARNATION? Answer

What is the true meaning of CHRISTMAS?
What is the TRUE meaning of Christmas? Answers for skeptics. Plus carols, games, coloring pages, reviews of Christmas movies, and more.

Click for informationWhat are the most common MISCONCEPTIONS about Jesus Christ’s birth?

Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

See our COLORING PAGES ABOUT CHRISTMAS

What does the Bible say about…

The NATIVITY of Christ

Bethlehem

What was the STAR of Bethlehem? Answer

Sheep

Donkey

Goats

Camels

Animals

Lamb of God

Messiah

The Second Adam

The Deliverer

Redeemer

Savior of the World

Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

King of kings

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Christmas movies
REVIEWS of “Christmas” movies

Featuring: Steven Yeun … Bo the Donkey (voice)
Kristin ChenowethAbby the Mouse (voice)
Zachary LeviJoseph (voice)
Gina RodriguezMary (voice)
Tyler PerryCyrus the camel (voice)
Christopher PlummerKing Herod (voice)
Keegan-Michael KeyDave the Dove (voice)
Patricia HeatonEdith the Cow (voice)
Kris KristoffersonOld Donkey (voice)
Ving RhamesThaddeus the Dog (voice)
Anthony AndersonZach the Goat (voice)
Mariah CareyRebecca the Hen (voice)
Oprah WinfreyDeborah the Camel (voice)
Kelly Clarkson … Leah the Horse (voice)
Gabriel Iglesias … Rufus the Dog (voice)
Tracy Morgan … Felix the camel (voice)
Aidy Bryant … Ruth the Sheep (voice)
Phil Morris … Miller (voice)
Delilah … Elizabeth (voice)
Joel McCrary … Zechariah (voice)
William Townsend … Goat (voice)
Joel Osteen … Caspar (voice)
Monique Edwards … Additional Voices
Director: Timothy Reckart—Academy Award® nominated writer/director “Head Over Heels” (2001), “Anomalisa” (2016—Lead Animator)
Producer: DeVon Franklin—“Miracles From Heaven
Franklin Entertainment
Walden Media
Affirm Films
See all »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

“The story of the first Christmas / It takes many tails to tell the greatest story ever”

Copyrighted, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

“The Star” retells the Christmas Story from the perspective of the animals involved. In Nazareth, a mill donkey named Bo (voiced by Steven Yeun) dreams of being a part of the royal caravan. Meanwhile, Mary (voiced by Gina Rodriguez) is visited by an angel that tells her she will be the mother of the Messiah. This miraculous situation is also witnessed by a mouse named Abby (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth).

One day, Bo breaks out of the mill and decides to head out with his friend, Dave the Dove (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key). However, he’s also mysteriously intrigued by a bright star that’s appeared in the sky.

Trying to escape from the mill owner, Bo seeks refuge in a yard belonging to Mary and Joseph (voiced by Zachary Levi), where he quickly befriends Mary. After this, a census is issued and the couple begins their trek to Bethlehem. Joseph tries to get Bo to pull their cart, but is unsuccessful. So the couple decides to leave him behind.

In the meantime, word of a new King being born and the star in the sky spreads for miles. Three kings tell King Herod (voiced by Christopher Plummer) about what the star could mean. In response, Herod sends out a guard and two guard dogs to try and get rid of Mary and the unborn child. Will Mary and Joseph reach Bethlehem? Will Bo and the other animals find out about Herod’s plot and do something about it?

Entertainment Quality

Even though it’s not the strongest effort as far as animation quality is concerned (a few of the animals could have used a little more fine-tuning), the overall animation is still fairly solid considering the budget was not as lavish as most Hollywood animated productions (“The Star” is estimated at $18-million for production/distribution). The all-star voice cast does a nice job, with the stand-outs being Key, Aidy Bryant (as Ruth the Sheep), Chenoweth and Levi. The wise men’s three camels (voiced by Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Tracy Morgan) turn out to be a solid comedic trio.

The overall story does a really nice job retelling the story without disrespecting the source material or the main purpose of the story. The Birth of Jesus and the events leading up to it remain the same for the most part (despite some creative license in the animals’ perspective, the only actual event from Scripture that is changed slightly is in how Mary and Joseph find the stable).

The film is quite funny, with many laugh-out-loud moments (I think the parents laughed more than the kids at the showing I attended). There are several clever references to Biblical characters and events that careful listeners should be able to pick up on. It moves at a solid pace that remains entertaining through its humor, witty dialog and suspenseful moments.

The villains of the movie start out somewhat stereotypical, but go through a surprising redemption at the end that made me think about them differently. This decision adds a little more emotional depth.

On the downside, there are a couple of moments where the humor and silliness goes a little over-the-top. Also, while the presence of Christmas hymns and songs does work appropriately at times, there are at least a couple of instances where the placing of the songs is somewhat odd. For instance, the decision to have “Mary Did You Know?” play when Joseph is trying to find help to fix his cart seems a little out of place.

Positive Messages

The idea and purpose behind “the star of Bethlehem” represents the coming Savior, Jesus Christ. Everyone feels like that they need to “follow the star,” as it might be important. Indeed, the coming of the birth of Jesus brings characters from different walks of life together.

Mary and Joseph go through several moments on their journey where they are unsure of what will happen. But, Mary says, “Just because God has a plan doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.” That is a true statement. Ultimately, God knows what’s best, and cares for us. Proverbs 3:5-6 brings to mind the fact that we need to trust God over our own understanding.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Joseph is a loving, dedicated husband who will help Mary at every step of the way. In the meantime, in the midst of changing decisions, Dave proves to be a loyal friend to Bo. He sticks around regardless of what decision he makes about the royal caravan. In the meantime, Bo sacrifices his dreams to help save Mary.

The film also portrays prayer in a very positive light. We see Mary, Joseph and even Bo pray to God in moments of crisis, and those moments of faith lead to answers to their prayers.

Content of possible concern

Language: At one moment, Bo seems to be calling his miller owner some possibly harsh words (we only hear these things from the owner’s perspective, in that case, a bunch of “hee-haws”). Dave says, “Nazareth can kiss my white tail feathers goodbye” and that something might “tick people off.” Someone says “gosh” once. Someone is called a “bully”.

Adult Content: Nothing inappropriate. There is implied hesitancy in Joseph about Mary becoming pregnant out of the blue (with the Son of God), but it’s not discussed in a blatant way.

Violence: It is clear that a henchman and two dogs are sent out to try and take out Mary and the baby. In a few occasions, we see him unsheathe his sharp, intimidating-looking knife. He also grabs a couple of characters by the neck and throws them aside. Bo causes some slapstick mayhem here and there. He knocks over a couple of people from high places, and spills a bucket of paint on someone. Abby is swallowed up by one of the guard dogs, then spit back out. Bo kicks a dog. Someone falls from a high precipice and lands on another character. A character is knocked into a well. Two animals are shown hanging by a big chain. Another character falls off a cliff. One character is whacked in the face twice by a wood beam. Dave warns a bunch of chickens to “run!” after seeing a family eat chicken for lunch. Herod briefly mentions “killing” all of the babies in a village, a reference to an event that occurs in Scripture.

Other: Dave makes a couple of light bathroom jokes (“I’m going to go find someone to poop on!” “Plant a well-placed No. 2 somewhere”).

Conclusion

Like “Risen” from last year, “The Star” attempts to retell a famous Bible story we’ve all heard many times, from a fresh perspective. And even though some creative liberties are taken, the overall result sticks pretty faithfully to the Biblical narrative. Also, the movie is not just a flick aimed strictly at kids. The film provides good-natured and clean laughs for both kids and adults. And the film refreshingly restrains the over-the-top silliness that oftentimes characterizes many “kids’ movies.”

At a breezy 86 minutes, “The Star” remains consistently entertaining and engaging. It also is nearly devoid of problematic content (the only possible issues here are a couple of very mild bathroom jokes and some perilous moments). In fact, the movie very well could have been rated G (I can name a few G-rated movies that are darker and scarier than this).

“The Star” doesn’t rival the best animated efforts, but it is still a pretty good one. And, its generally respectful, reverential, and clever presentation of the first Christmas makes it a better choice for families this season.

  • Violence: Mild to Moderate
  • Profane language: None
  • Vulgar/Crude language: None
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
Emmanuel—the incarnation

Unlike any other baby, the one born that night in Bethlehem was unique in all of history. He was not created by a human father and mother. He had a heavenly pre-existence (John 1:1-3, 14). He is God, the Son—Creator of the universe (Philippians 2:5-11). This is why Christmas is called the incarnation, a word which means “in the flesh.” In the birth of Jesus, the eternal, all-powerful and all-knowing Creator came to earth in the flesh.

Why would God do such a thing? Answer

An accurate explanation of the purpose Jesus Christ’s birth. Answers for skeptics. Plus Christmas carols, games, coloring pages, reviews of Christmas movies, and more%u2026

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Wow! An animated Christmas movie with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, magi, and King Herod, instead of elves, Santa, etc. Imagine that! A colorful, fun, humorous movie that depicts the account of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, depicted from the animals’ perspective.

Mostly Biblically accurate in events, key dialogue among humans, and interactions. Some creative artistic license was taken regarding the animal characters, for added fun and humor. Several scenes of prayer to God. Several positive messages, especially a scene that hints at Romans 12:20-21 and Matthew 5:44. Fun voice acting and animation. Good job!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—I went to see this with my 7 year old and my mom as well. We ALL loved it. I have pretty good discernment, and there were NO red flags raised on this one. They kept true to Scripture at the core. The only creative liberties they took was having this from the animals’ perspective (so there were some added situations), but there was no conflict or minimizing of the actual Biblical account. I was beyond pleasantly surprised to see that. Nowadays most accounts in the hands of Hollywood produce movies with their spin and liberalism added to it.

There was no doubt in this movie that Jesus was King and was sent by God. We see instances of prayer, even Boaz the the Donkey prays. I could not recommend this enough. As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as my mom. So all ages will appreciate it. The ending was moving and gave a great message that sometimes the plans God has for us our much bigger than we can imagine without even realizing it. Bravo to the people behind the making of this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Laura, age 40 (USA)
Positive—This is an excellent telling of the Christmas story, for children and adults. It has humor, reverence, excitement, and some big name voice actors. They have added another character to the story, for enhanced drama; so don’t be surprised. They apologize in the credits for tampering with a classic.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Brian Schacht, age 70 (Canada)
Comments from young people
Neutral—This movie is Biblically inaccurate in many ways. Let’s start from the beginning.

• In the movie Mary tells Joseph that she is pregnant after they are married. In the Bible, Mary tells Joseph she is pregnant with God’s son before they get married, and Joseph has conflicts until God sends the angel to reassure him.
• Next in the movie, the wise men go to King Herod to tell him about the coming king, and King Herod keeps them locked there and sends a guard with two chained dogs and releases the wise men later on. The Bible says the wise men went to the king got his approval and went on there way to find the newborn king.
• Next thing is them finding the stable, that the donkey shows them where the stable is. In the Bible it says there was no room for them in the inn so the innkeeper took them to his stable.
• Last thing is the wise men came when Jesus was first born. The Bible doesn’t state the exact timeline, but Jesus was about two years old when they came and worshiped him.

One of the things I disliked about this movie is that it’s mainly about the donkey and not about Jesus. When I went to watch this movie, I thought it was going to be the Christmas story, but in reality it was about a donkey finding his way and trying to protect Mary, not realizing why. Overall, the movie is very clean and appropriate, but, if you were hoping for a biblical account of the Christmas story, this movie isn’t it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Whitney, age 16 (USA)

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