A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie, based on the Joseph story from the book of Genesis, contains more violence than the typical kids' animated musical. Joseph's prophetic dreams show wolves, destruction, beheadings, and birds feeding on human flesh. Joseph's brothers plot against him, selling him into slavery. A woman falsely accuses Joseph of sexual assault. Joseph undergoes horrific trials, from slavery to prison, but overcomes them to rise to a position of power in Egypt. The movie explores how he will deal with his brothers, given his status; will he get revenge, or show forgiveness?
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What's the story?
In the opening song, Joseph (voiced by (Ben Affleck) is told repeatedly he is "a miracle child," whose special purpose God has not yet revealed. This infuriates his brothers, who labor in the field while their younger brother studies, draped in his many-colored cloak. The brothers decide to sell Joseph into slavery, telling their parents that he's been killed by wild animals. In the pharaoh's palace, working for Potipher and his wife, Joseph shows skill in dream interpretation, organizing, and managing. During a jail term for a crime in which he was falsely accused, he gains perspective and trust in God. Joseph emerges more powerful than ever. As a result, he is given a chance to make a choice: to seek revenge on his brothers or forgive them.
Is it any good?
Two years after Moses' story got the animated musical treatment in The Prince of Egypt it was Joseph's turn -- same winning formula, with A-list voice talent and even better animators. But it lacks Egypt's poignant tunes and powerful storytelling -- which is perhaps why it ended up skipping the theaters and going straight to DVD.
The animation is accomplished. Particularly compelling are the dream sequences, which almost look like animated Van Gogh paintings. For an animated kids' feature, there is a fairly high level of violence, from the brothers menacing Joseph to his grisly dream interpretations for fellow cell-mates in prison. His struggle with whether to punish his brothers is touching, as is his wife Aseneth's (Jodi Benson) counsel to her husband.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Joseph's brothers were so jealous of him. When Joseph was put in jail by Potipher what was it that helped him through the solitary weeks and months? Why did Joseph put the drinking chalice in Benjamin's sack of grain? Do you think it was difficult for Joseph to forgive his brothers?
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