A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that since this animated drama follows animals that encounter Jesus right before the crucifixion, it will primarily appeal to Christian families who are looking to teach their children more about New Testament themes. Since Jesus (who is referred to as "the King" by the animals) is shown being jostled, hit, and eventually flogged and crucified, some very young children may be disturbed (although most of these scenes are brief and don't show any details). Judah the lamb is also nearly slaughtered (as the sacrificial lamb) but is saved at the last moment. While the film will be educational for Christian children, families of other faiths may be less comfortable with the movie's subject matter and overtly evangelical message.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Judah (voiced by Georgina Cordova) is destined to become a sacrificial lamb, but his new friends from a Bethlehem stable -- a horse, cow (Sandi Patty), rat (Ernest Borgnine), rooster, donkey (Scott Reeves), and pig -- follow him to Jerusalem, where they also encounter Jesus in the days leading up to the crucifixion. Along the way, the animals realize that Judah's sacrifice is meant to set people free and that they must find Jesus to help them.
Is it any good?
It feels a bit off to criticize a well-intentioned movie about animals witnessing Jesus' final days, but this isn't up to par with even Christian movies like Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. The animation is reminiscent of video-game quality, with foreground characters moving around in front of static, undetailed backgrounds. Scenes of the animals in motion are particularly uninspired; at least most humans aren't shown in detail (usually viewers only see people's sandaled feet, arms, or faces in shadow).
Animation style aside, the story feels like an odd mix of Barnyard and The Passion of the Christ. Still, if an animated depiction of the crucifixion and resurrection from the perspective of stable animals is OK with your family, there's some good news. The best part of the movie is the soundtrack, which includes music by contemporary Christian artists Pearl, Lindell Cooley, Kari Jobe, and Klaus. Judah's faith in the fact that Jesus' love saved him from slaughter is sweetly handled, as is the donkey Jack's decision to return to Jerusalem to help the disciples left behind. Ultimately, though, this movie probably won't be a good fit for families who don't share the filmmakers' Christian faith.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: June 3, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: March 27, 2012
- Cast: Ernest Borgnine, Georgina Cordova
- Director: Deryck Broom
- Studio: Rocky Mountain Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Horses and Farm Animals
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild thematic elements
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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