WHAT TO SEE: The Star
Starring Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi
Run time: 86 min
Scripture makes no mention of animals being present at Christ’s birth, not even a donkey. Yet, it’s more than plausible: Jesus was born in a stable. Mary and Joseph likely didn’t walk the 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Responsible shepherds would never abandon their flocks. And wise men bearing gifts surely required assistance to traverse afar. Beasts are prominent in Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Star,” a sweet retelling of the Nativity story largely through the eyes of Bo (voiced by Steven Yeun), a small donkey with big dreams. Having escaped the drudgery of grinding grain at a mill, Bo and his bird friend, Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), flee to join a royal caravan rumored to be passing through town. Instead, touched by the kindness of Mary (Gina Rodriguez), Bo and Dave accompany Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem — largely to protect her from Herod’s evil henchman sent to hunt down the expectant mother with dogs and sword. It’s an enjoyable movie for adults and children alike. The animated Mary and Joseph come off as humanized but not cartoonish. Slapstick action designed to appeal to preadolescents gets tiresome in spots, but the dialogue is laced with clever humor all ages can appreciate. Interaction among the wise men’s camels (Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey) provides some of the best comic elements. The soundtrack of familiar hymns and new music is pleasant and appropriate. Although the film takes some liberties with the biblical storyline, the essentials are all there: A young virgin is chosen to bear the Son of God, the Messiah, and she and her courageous husband accept this unique calling with total faith and trust. In the end, wise men, shepherds, and animals alike gather to honor the newborn King — and they were all led there by the Star.
GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.