The Star: Movie Review
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Editors Note: The Star is being re-released in select theaters this weekend, December 7th and 8th. Click here to see if the movie is playing in your area.
It’s not very often that a major studio “gets it right” when it comes to depicting biblically themed movies to general audiences. But that is exactly what Sony Pictures Animation has done with their latest offering.
The Star is a rambunctious re-telling of the greatest story ever told … but from a slightly different point of view. Starring a cavalcade of vocal talent that includes Patricia Heaton, Christopher Plummer, and Tracy Morgan, The Star is an animated version of Christ’s birth told from the animals’ perspective.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Bo (Steven Yeun, The Walking Dead) is a brave young donkey who has grown tired of his daily grind working at the village mill. Longing for something bigger, brighter, and well, something a little easier on the hooves, he breaks free and embarks on an adventure of a lifetime. Joining forces with Ruth (Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live), a warm-hearted sheep who has gotten separated from her flock, and Dave (Keegan Michael-Key, MADtv), a dove who has aspirations to be part of the king’s royal parade, the trio becomes the unlikeliest of heroes in making sure Mary and Joseph find a place for Baby Jesus to be born. Along the way, they encounter three fun-loving camels and a manger full of slightly quirky animals.
THE GOOD AND BAD OF THE STAR
Filled with humor and heart, The Star will attract viewers on several levels. Young audiences will be swept up in the visual brightness of screen and script while adults will enjoy the strong storylines presented from this unlikely cast of cattle, birds, and beasts.
But, let’s not forget the humans. Mary and Joseph (a dead-ringer for acclaimed singer Josh Groban) are deftly voiced by Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Zachary Levi (Chuck). Based on Scripture's account, Mary and especially Joseph had little inkling of the magnitude to their role in the Nativity story. However, this cinematic duo delivers a sweet sense of cautious verve that is so critically important when describing their roles in the Virgin Birth. In addition, the pairing of Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry (Madea movies), and Morgan (SNL, 30 Rock) as three wisecracking camels is an unlikely comic triumph.
For as funny as the camels are, The Star struggles at times by forcing humor in situations where it isn’t needed. The end result is contrived jokes designed to get a laugh that fall short because they just don’t fit the situation or scene.
Fortunately, several critical themes related to the Christmas story are on full display including sacrifice, prayer, and most importantly Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
To their credit, executive producer DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven) and director Timothy Reckart worked diligently to ensure The Star was theologically sound.
IN THE END
While it will be easy for critics to take a dismissive approach to this well-traveled story, one can’t discount the profound effect it has had and continues to have on mankind. Fortunately, The Star is a warm, loving re-telling of Christ's birth with a welcoming twist from the animal kingdom. It is a can’t miss this Christmas season.
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