The Star

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Star Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Sweet Nativity story told from animals' perspective.
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 47 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 21 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Introduces the basic elements of the biblical Nativity story.

Positive Messages

Positive messages include the power of generosity, integrity, and compassion; the importance of protecting others; the importance of following through on your duty/responsibilities; and faith that the journey toward Mary and Joseph (and baby Jesus) had an important purpose. Promotes the idea that friends support and help one another.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mary and Joseph are faithful, loving, and caring -- Mary in particular cares about the animals that turn up on the couple's journey toward Bethlehem. Bo starts out dreaming of glory and adventure and then finds his purpose through staying with Mary and helping her and Joseph. Many of the animals feel strongly convicted to follow a particular path. Some of the dangerous animals redeem themselves after Jesus' birth. King Herod is cruel and selfish, but he and his minions are clearly portrayed as bad guys in the wrong. Mary doesn't look particularly Middle Eastern.

Violence & Scariness

A sequence between Herod's enforcers and a village includes peril and some frightening animals (including angry dogs), but no one is seriously hurt. Characters navigate some perilous paths and cliffs on their journey. Bo's initial companion sacrifices his safety so Bo can escape. Herod plots against Mary and Joseph; his minions can be intimidating.

Sexy Stuff

Mary and Joseph are affectionate.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Star is an animated, faith-based take on the Nativity story that's told from the perspective of the animals that accompanied Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. There's nothing too scary or iffy for young kids, except for a scene in which a big, scary animal charges people and other animals (no one is seriously hurt). There are also two intimidating attack dogs that end up temporarily incapacitated before they can do any harm, and a few other scenes of peril. King Herod is cruel and selfish, but he's clearly a bad guy -- as are the minions he sends after Mary and Joseph. Expect strong, clear messages about Christmas, family, and faith; obviously the movie aligns with the Christian belief in Jesus' virgin birth (although that detail isn't lingered on). It also has themes of compassion and integrity. Moviegoers of all backgrounds will recognize many of the voice actors (including Keegan-Michael Key, Oprah Winfrey, and Zachary Levi), but the film is likely to have the most appeal for Christian families.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byHeather B. December 5, 2017


Sweet movie about the birth of Christ. Beautiful music, cute animals, sweet animation and great message-forgiveness, love and helping others even when it is har...
Adult Written byMisty C. December 3, 2017

LOVE LOVE LOVE The Star! Amazing family movie!

We really loved this movie! So nice to see something that is appropriate for all ages. The positive message, not having to worry about what was in the movie.... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byPartygurl442 November 24, 2017

Amazing, just amazing.

I myself am a Christian and I took my little sister out to see the movie today (also I'm not one to turn down a Zachary Levi movie, heh heh) and I was amaz... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 22, 2017


I'm not exactly fond of this movie, I'm pretty sure this is NOT what happened. Definitely not one of Sony's worst, but, unless you're highly... Continue reading

What's the story?

Inspired by the Nativity story, THE STAR follows Bo the donkey (voiced by Steven Yeun), who dreams of escaping his dull duties working for the village miller and finding glory and adventure in the outside world. One day he manages to escape and eventually teams up with Ruth (Aidy Bryant), a sheep who's lost her flock, and Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), a wisecracking dove. The trio begins an action-packed journey to follow a star that's leading them toward young, pregnant Mary (Gina Rodriguez) and her husband, Joseph (Zachary Levi), who've been forced by royal decree to travel to Bethlehem. Meanwhile, King Herod's (Christopher Plummer) henchmen, armed with a few scary attack animals, are on the lookout for pregnant women like Mary -- but Bo and his friends are ready to protect their human friends.

Is it any good?

With a great voice cast and cute character animation, this religious tale is just funny and entertaining enough to amuse most families who celebrate Christmas, not just devout church-goers. The Star manages to finely balance the biblical aspects of the Nativity story with the sillier elements associated with animated talking-animal movies. TV star Yeun (The Walking Dead) plays Bo with an earnest hopefulness, which is balanced well by Dave, the knowing, joke-cracking dove voiced by comedian Key. Kids will likely connect with the animals more than they do the biblical adults, who are well acted but far more serious, considering everything that a heavily pregnant Mary (who for some reason has pretty pale skin and huge blue eyes) and Joseph (who at least looks Middle Eastern) are going through to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Although the movie's subject matter is clearly religious, it isn't overtly preachy (unlike many other faith-based films). Still, it's definitely aimed at families that already celebrate Christmas. But it's light enough to amuse kids, and parents will get a kick out of the cast, which also includes turns by Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, Anthony Anderson, Tracy Morgan, and more. The catchy soundtrack includes a variety of secular, gospel, and Christian superstars -- including Mariah Carey (who sings the theme song), Kirk Franklin, Casting Crowns, and Pentatonix -- singing a mix of classic and contemporary Christmas songs like "We Three Kings" and "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)." Bottom line? The Star will definitely appeal to Christian families with young kids as a holiday season pick.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages of family, faith, and friendship in The Star. What does Bo learn on his journey that leads him to Mary and Joseph? How does he change over the course of the movie?

  • How do some of the characters exemplify integrity and compassion? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Who's the target audience for this movie? Do you need to be Christian to appreciate its story and themes/messages?

  • Why do you think movies about talking animals are so fascinating and funny to kids?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holiday movies

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Themes & Topics

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