Movie Review: The Star

movie review

Sony Pictures Animation’s Christmas movie The Star opened on November 17th and, predictably, my family was there on opening night. Here’s my movie review!

We saw a preview for The Star at another movie we went to a few weeks ago. I wasn’t terribly interested, but then I saw the cast and figured if this many big stars were involved, maybe it would be worth it to go. (A camel played by Oprah? Joseph played by Zachary Levi, AKA Flynn Ryder from Tangled? Kelly Clarkson? Kristen Chenoweth? Christopher Plummer? Tracy Morgan? Tyler Perry? Need I say more?) Plus, we haven’t been to see a movie in a while, so we went. I’m so glad we did!

First thing you need to know: The movie tells the biblical Christmas story. You don’t have to be Christian or know the Christmas story to see the film, although those who follow the Christian faith are kind of the movie’s target audience (no surprise there). The movie is not particularly preachy, which I was concerned about, and there’s a lot of fun and silliness.

The story is told from the perspective of a miniature donkey named Bo. He’s stuck working a flour mill, but longs for more. He escapes from the mill and ends up joining Joseph and Mary’s little family. As the family makes its way from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in a census ordered by Rome, adventures ensue.

What did my family have to say? As soon as we left the theater, my daughter proclaimed that we needed to buy the film. So, apparently we’ll be seeing it again! My husband, who is a minister, was annoyed because the Magi show up at Herod’s palace prior to the birth of Jesus, and Herod’s plot to murder “the new king” of which the Magi spoke begins before Jesus is born. This is not how things go in the Bible. (For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t have wise-cracking animals either, so there you go.) Despite these inaccuracies, he liked the movie.

There were, as Common Sense Media puts it, some “scenes of peril,” but they weren’t too scary. It was just enough tension to keep my six-year-old on the edge of her seat, but with plenty of comic relief and scenes of kindness and caring in between. The movie is rated PG for “thematic elements,” which I’m guessing are the scenes of peril and some relatively mild threats of violence. Common Sense Media recommends the movie for ages four and up, which I’d agree is pretty accurate. Unless you have a particularly sensitive little one, you’ll be fine to take your preschooler. Oh, and if your child is afraid of dogs, this may not be the movie for them—especially in a theater where the animals are larger than life and you can’t pause the action to take a break.

All in all, the movie was a cute, seasonal film to see with the whole family. It’s not as amazing as, say, Moana was or as it looks like Coco will be, but it wasn’t painful to sit through like The Secret Life of Pets or Sing (sorry to those of you who are fans!) There’s a variety of Christmas hymns and songs in the film, which are well done. And the movie was short, clocking in at just 86 minutes.

Oh, and at the end of the film, the studio included a note that they didn’t follow the biblical narrative exactly, but tried to say true to spirit of the story. I think they succeeded.

(PS, if you’ve seen and enjoyed the movie, check out its website for free, downloadable coloring and activity pages!)

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