I know Christmas is currently in the parental rear view mirror and the stores are filled with Easter basket items already, but indulge me if you will, for a minute. One of my struggles as a Christian parent has been to keep the Christmas STORY in the forefront of my kids’ hearts and minds without having them just look forward to PRESENTS all year long. I mean, nothing wrong with looking forward to presents, but I want them to remember and talk about Jesus’ BIRTH all year long — not so much what was in their stockings or packages on Christmas morning,
This past fall, I discovered a resource to help me do JUST that when I was asked to review The Star movie. We looove watching Christmas movies as a family; however one thing that was really missing from our holiday movie repertoire was a movie that told the actual Christmas story, the story of the first Christmas, the reason why we actually celebrate at all —Jesus’ birth. Well, I’ve got good news, parents! Thanks to The Star movie, which comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray today, I can finally say that void is filled— and in the most hilarious way that kids and parents alike will love.
Before I go any further, let me just say that after I reviewed this movie last November, I was sent The Star DVD in advance as a follow-up, but I’m not being paid in anyway for this review—these are just my actual, honest opinions. I had my expectations for the movie set fairly low because as a Christian I’m often skeptical when Hollywood takes on a Biblical story. I was a little worried about the story of Jesus’s birth being told in a non-factual way, being skewed, or even being blasphemed. After all. the story of Christ’s birth is something that is sacred and precious to all of us who follow Him. However I’m happy to say that my expectations were far, far exceeded.
What makes The Star movie exceptional is that it’s told from the point of view of the animals involved in the story. There’s Bo the donkey, whose back carried Mary and the unborn Christ child to Bethlehem. There are the wise men’s three hilarious camels (one of whom is portrayed by Tracy Morgan of SNL/30 Rock and nearly steals the show, he is SO funny!), and there are the animals in the stable where Jesus came to be born: inhuman witnesses to the most glorious mishmash of human and holy that has ever occurred.
When I asked The Star movie director Timothy Reckart how he planned to stay faithful to the biblical account of Christmas while still making a funny movie the kids would love, he gave me this answer:
It’s a tough balance to strike, but we are greatly helped by telling the Nativity story from the point of view of the animals. I love this concept, because the animals have always been there. They’re already part of everyone’s Nativity set. But we’ve never asked “What was their side of the story?” If you think about the Nativity story as it’s presented in the Bible, The Star is about what was happening “off stage.” And that means that we have room for a lot of creative freedom and fun. The Bible doesn’t tell us what the camels were thinking when King Herod spoke to the Wise Men! And at the same time, we can always be faithful to the parts of the story given to us in the Gospels.
As a Christian, I can say that both Reckart’s answer and the result he delivered are on point. As a parent, I can say that this is a movie that your kids will love and that you as parents will enjoy as well. My husband and I watched it with our 11-year-old and seven-year-old and all four of us were giggling like crazy. And then, when it was over we were able to have a fabulous and meaningful conversation about how truly special the birth of Jesus was, why we celebrate Christmas, and what Christ’s birth still means to us even though it took place over 2000 years ago.
Bottom line: even if you didn’t take your kids to see this movie in theaters, I highly recommend that you purchase The Star movie DVD or Blu-Ray (hey, maybe put it in that Easter basket!) Despite the fact that Christmas is over, my 7-year-old wanted to watch it as soon as it arrived last week because it’s just that good! I know we’re going to want to watch it every year leading up to the holidays, but I also love that we can watch it ANYTIME and enjoy a movie that actually tells the story of what Christmas is all about (!!!) in a way that the entire family can enjoy, and on a quality level that is superb. Because, parents?? Christ’s birth is and should be an “anytime” and “all the time” story in our homes!
I’m including the trailer below so you can get a sneak peek if you haven’t already seen it. ENJOY, and I hope you come back and tell me what you think of it!