The Nativity Story

Movie review by
Jane Boursaw, Common Sense Media
The Nativity Story Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
The Bible on the big screen: New take on old tale.
  • PG
  • 2006
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 18 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No one believes that Mary didn't have sex, so she has to endure their looks, whispers, and even the threat of stoning. In Bethlehem, the couple is turned away as she's ready to give birth. Mary and Joseph hold fast to their faith during difficult times.


Mary and Joseph endure a harsh trip to Bethlehem, battling sandstorms, treacherous terrain, hunger, thieves, and a snake during a river crossing. Brief scenes of innocents being slaughtered. Mention of Mary being stoned.


The story revolves around Mary's "immaculate conception." People react harshly to the idea that Mary may have had sex before marriage (her mother hints at rape). Mary and Elizabeth endure painful labor during childbirth.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that most kids probably won't be clamoring to see this serious biblical drama. It includes references to stoning, rape, and the slaughter of innocent people. Mary endures whispers and looks from neighbors (she's pregnant but hasn't had sex -- they wonder how this can be). She and Joseph embark on a difficult trip to Bethlehem, enduring thieves, harsh weather, sandstorms, a perilous river crossing, and a run-in with a snake. The takeaway message (for Christians and non-believers alike) is that hope and faith go a long way toward getting you through life's rough patches.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycathien December 16, 2011


I have not seen this movie but my son will be watching it at school next week - that is what brought me here to read the review. What caught my eye is the state... Continue reading
Adult Written byLowe's man April 30, 2016

the original Christmas story

This isn't for young children. If they enjoy hearing the story of Jesus's birth they should see, hear or read a sanitized version. That said, this p... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 20, 2020

Great Movie

It is a great movie about hope, love and faith. It will pull you into the life of Mary. Even with hardships and pains, she still remained faithful with the hope... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byItstedward101 December 7, 2020

My favorite movie of all time!

Yall. Don't look at the other comments about people saying this is inaccurate, or inappropriate. This movie really dives into the struggles of Mary and Jos... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE NATIVITY STORY opens with King Herod (Ciaran Hinds) plotting to kill all the male babies in Bethlehem. In a flashback to the previous year, Zechariah (Stanley Townsend) is told by an angelic voice that his aging wife Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo) will bear a son. In Nazareth, Elizabeth's young peasant cousin, Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) -- still practically a child and living under the daily uncertainties of Roman occupation -- is informed by her parents, Anna and Joaquim (Hiam Abbass and Shaun Toub), that she is to marry Joseph (Oscar Isaac), a carpenter a few years her senior. Troubled, Mary retreats to a nearby grove, where the angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) reveals that she'll give birth to Jesus. Meanwhile, in Persia, the three Magi set out to follow the star westward as Joseph and Mary begin their own difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Once they finally arrive, Jesus is born -- complete with wise men, shepherds, no room at the inn, and just a hint of Hallmark Cardish-ness.

Is it any good?

The movie''s notable in that it takes us inside the biblical characters' experience -- what they're thinking and how people react to their extraordinary situation. With very little source material to go on, it's true that most of this movie is speculation. But thoughtful direction by Catherine Hardwicke and a strong screenplay by Mike Rich give viewers a glimpse into Mary and Joseph's emotions.

Castle-Hughes portrays Mary with all the angst you might expect from someone in her situation. It's heart-wrenching to see Mary endure disparaging looks from neighbors, the threat of stoning, and the doubts of her own parents. Mary and Joseph feel woefully inadequate for such enormous responsibility, yet they quietly shoulder their responsibilities with hope and faith. This movie is a little slow in spots, and it's clearly religious. But its message of peace and goodwill will resonate with non-believers as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Mary and Joseph react to their extraordinary situation. Even though they had doubts, they didn't shy away from responsibility. Why do people call on faith and hope when times are rough? Also, when someone trustworthy tells you something that seems unbelievable, should you trust them? How realistic do you think the movie's portrayal of biblical times is? How do kids think the director did depicting this timeless story? How do they respond to seeing religion on the big screen? How do our modern values color the story of Mary and Joseph?

Movie details

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