Sunday, November 26, 2017

Movie Review: "The Star" (2017)

Director: Timothy Reckart
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

The story of the Nativity from the point of view of a donkey and other animals present at the birth of Jesus.

We have seen movies about the story of the Nativity many times. Each time we watch one of these films, we can't help but think, "you know what this story really needs?........poop jokes!"

Okay, so maybe we don't need them, but we certainly get them in Sony Pictures Animation/Affirm Film's latest animated feature "The Star." This movie tells the story of the birth of Jesus from the point of view of a donkey named Bo, voiced by Steven Yeun. Bo has always dreamt of pulling the royal carriage but is stuck milling grain for an ungrateful master. His best friend is a dove named Dave, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, and how the two of them wind up with Mary and Joseph, voiced by Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi, after Bo breaks free from the shackles of his old life. Needing to report to Bethlehem for the census, Mary and Joseph must make the trek to the city even though she is very pregnant. Bo and Dave go along in order to protect her from a hunter and his two dogs who have been tasked by King Herod to kill her so the prophesied Messiah will not be born. Also lending their voice talents to this picture are Aidy Bryant, Christopher Plummer, Ving Rhames, Gabriel Iglesias, Anthony Anderson, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Tyler Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, Tracy Morgan, Kris Kristofferson, and Oprah Winfrey. Heck, maybe it would have been easier to list who doesn't lend their voice to this project.

"The Star" wants to be this faith-affirming film about the birth of Jesus, but it also wants to appeal to children and be something they can enjoy. Director Timothy Reckart tries to achieve this by loading the story with a bunch of slapstick and potty humor jokes to keep kids invested. Only about 15% of the jokes actually hit their intended mark. The slapstick physics are wildly inconsistent as Bo is injured severely when tangled in a rope but later falls off a cliff without so much as a scratch. But this is just a movie for kids, right? Who cares, they won't notice this kind of stuff! Our point is, we noticed, so most adults probably will as well. "The Star" also attempts to remove the more unsavory parts of the story of the birth of Jesus, such as the actual slaughter of the innocent, which isn't exactly a kid-friendly topic. C'mon, people, you can't pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to believe...well, we guess that speaks to a larger know what? Nevermind, it's not worth it. Mary is played as this kindhearted, perfect saint of a character, and Joseph is a lovable oaf who often winds up the butt of the joke. Much of the story is a boring 'been there, done that' tale brought to life by the laziest animation possible. There are a couple of intense moments of action, but these moments are offset and hindered by their song choices, which are usually religious Christmas carols that seem wildly out of place when played alongside the action unfolding on screen.

In the end, "The Star" tries to balance faith and fun but fails at both. Christmastime is the one time of year when all things Jesus are a-okay with us, but frankly, we wouldn't really recommend this movie to kids or adults. There are other better faith-based Christmas films out there without farting donkeys, pooping doves, and dozens of failing jokes. Though some of the voice acting is good, it's not enough to bring any real substance to this pedestrian Nativity tale. PS: Cast Steven Yeun in more things, Hollywood.


My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~55%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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