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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Introduces the basic elements of the biblical Nativity story.
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
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mary and Joseph are affectionate.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.