Blown away by the film, and the reality it was shown in theaters!
I despise the majority of children's programming (and adult programming for that matter) and haven’t seen a movie in a theater in about five years. I took my five year old daughter to see this movie today with friends and was moved to tears by the way the story was told. Surely anyone who has any contact with Christians would come away with new perspectives after seeing the movie. Several of the songs throughout the movie are traditional Christmas hymns, and Mary and Joseph are individually shown in prayer! I minored in theology at a Jesuit college, and in my opinion the writers of the script brilliantly melded the story of Jesus’s birth with humor while displaying the humanity of the well-developed characters. How often do we see Mary and Joseph so young and full of life, then truly concerned about fulfilling the massive responsibility of parenthood, much less raising the son of God? The scene in which they are in their home, and Joseph goes to sleep next to Mary after struggling to process the impending birth, was beautifully interpreted. Even their differing perspectives on Bo the donkey, and the teachable examples of miscommunication and stubbornness, were thoughtfully displayed. Being sent out on a journey with unanticipated challenges is symbolic of life itself, while the sometimes overwhelming personal struggle to find God and guidance in one’s life was treated sensitively and honestly. And Bo’s deliberation throughout the movie, as he sought to choose whether to follow his dream or sacrifice his hopes of glory to serve Mary’s need, reflects a reality all parents can identify with, in ministering to their own children as well as at some point aging parents. He is transformed by Mary’s compassion toward him, growing out of his personal quest for fame into a creature filled with a sense of duty to protect the vulnerable Mary. Showing how diverse groups of animals (symbolizing people) can unify to help others is truly uplifting. I found Ruth the sheep’s disclosure that she tried in vain to encourage the other sheep to follow the star, before setting out alone, a brilliant analogy for following Christ when others around you ostracize you. And (spoiler alert) the scenes with Bo the donkey where he confronts the soldier sent to kill baby Jesus, and Bo’s response to the attack dogs at the end of the movie, could not have better demonstrated Christian sacrifice (laying down one’s life for another), repentance and forgiveness! I truly hope that many families choose to watch this movie together, no matter their faith background, as it addresses profound concepts about the values of family, community, altruism and life purpose while exploring the impact of selfishness, remorse and forgiveness.