Quick Take: Go for the donkey, stay for the Camels.
When I first heard about The Star I immediately thought, a) what kind of evangelical propaganda is this and b) who in the hell has a soul lien on a Sony employee?
Then I calmed down and realized it’s about the Nativity from the perspective of the animals.
But I’m Catholic. As in the, please stop proselytizing your version of Christianity on my television, kind of Catholic. So you’ll have to forgive me my knee-jerk reaction…..
The Star is an adventure centered around an idealistic donkey name Bo (and his best friend Dave). These two see an extra bright star in the sky as a sign. So, they leave their home hoping for a great future in the royal caravan.
The Star’s an engaging film full of recognizable Christmas melodies. It ably navigates the minefield that is a movie built around the Nativity scene. It tells an oft-told with a warmth lacking in more heavy-handed versions. This isn’t an evangelical propaganda-fest.
You’ll see a heartwarming story that’s enjoyable regardless of your belief system. The Star has a great sense of humor. You can’t escape the fact that this is the story of the birth of Jesus. But this story progression treats these elements as just part and parcel of the adventure at hand. The plot has a nice pace and is hilariously full of animal antics and shenanigans.
The Star uses its musical score to do the “heavy-lifting” setting the tone and unraveling the spiritual aspects of the Nativity story. It’s a smart move, particularly since those singing are some of the best voices of the pop and gospel musical worlds.
The entire film is much more historically aware (without taking any swipes at scripture). It never takes itself so seriously that it makes you feel uncomfortable if you don’t follow a faith that treats this story as a cornerstone.
There is a small downside to part of the opening sequence where we meet Mary. The script assumes its audience (on some level) knows the scripture story of the Nativity. But, the upside is the story picks a point that hist the essential high notes (pun intended) and sets the stage for its story to unfold more naturally. The animation and visuals do call to mind the style used in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but it fits the humorous angle perfectly.
So, if you’ve got a holiday tradition of taking in movies (and you’ve already seen Coco), The Star will entertain the kiddos without boring the adults into a coma. The Star‘s crafted with respect to the subject matter but thankfully never forgets it’s a movie and meant to entertain, not convert.
Overall Rating: 2.95 out of 5
The Character Trailer does a much better job talking up what made this film work than I:
Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove),
Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep),
Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Patricia Heaton (Edith the cow),
Kristin Chenoweth (Abby the Mouse), Christopher Plummer (King Herod), and
Tracy Morgan (Felix), Tyler Perry (Cyrus), and Oprah Winfrey (Deborah)
Directed By: Timothy Reckart
Produced By: Jennifer Magee-Cook
Executive Produced By: DeVon Franklin, Lisa Henson, Brian Henson