Nativity animals tell their side of the story

A scene from The Star (IMDB/Sony Pictures)

The Star is animated film designed for the youngest of audiences and parents eager for their children to learn something about the religious meaning of Christmas.

The animation decision indicates that this is not be a “realistic “presentation of the familiar stories from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

The filmmakers agree that they have taken liberties with imagining and embellishing the story, wanting to add some tones of humour to delight the children’s audience with some slapstick and pratfalls to have them laughing.

There is a touch of drama too, with Mary and Joseph hurrying to Bethlehem, a sinister King Herod manipulating the wise men, and a brutal soldier and his two fierce dogs in pursuit of Mary and Joseph.

So, while Mary and Joseph and Herod are significant characters, The Star's narrative is from the point of view of the animals. They talk, although the humans can't hear them.

The central character is a donkey called Bo. He and an old donkey (voiced by Kris Kristofferson) are mill donkeys, going in circles all their lives. Bo (Steven Yuen) is eager to escape but not really knowing how. He has a cheeky dove friend, Dave (Keegan Michael Key), who is prone to wisecracks. They want to be in the king’s entourage.

Bo and Dave want to help Mary, who has been kind to Bo, and they hurry along the road to Bethlehem where they meet a lost sheep, Ruth (Aidy Bryant). Lots of comedy here, verbal and physical.

While the pursuing soldier might be frightening, the littlies might find the two snarling dogs fiercer – though they do have a crib conversion!

The key elements of Mary and Joseph – the Annunciation, the betrothal, inns and stables are all there – though, for some tastes the expected very American accents of Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi sound too modern – Mary is prone to say "OK" a lot. While Herod is evil, we see all the elements of Matthew 2 – though not the killing of the Innocents, the fierce soldier in pursuit being enough.

This is a nice little film for little audiences and a good introduction to learning the Gospel stories.

– Reviewed by Peter Malone MSC, ACOFB.

The Star Starring: Stephen Yuen, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Christopher Plummer, Ving Rhames, Gabriel Iglesias, Kelly Clarkson, Anthony Anderson, Kris Kristofferson, Kristin Chenoweth, Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey, Tracy Morgan. Directed by Timothy Reckart. 86 minutes. Rated G.

FULL REVIEW

The Star (ACOFB)

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