The Star

The story of the ass who found Jesus

W hen you tell kids the Nativity story in the hopes that it will resonate, what are you hoping they’ll take from the tale? Don’t tell me, lemme guess … is it the part where Bo the donkey (the focal point of the Nativity, of course) learns from Ruth the sheep how to rappel the Holy Land Grand Canyon? Is it the part where the three camels separate from the wise men to do some reconnaissance work on King Herod? Wait. Wait. I know this one: it’s the part where Dave the Dove does a series a fan dances to distract Rufus and Thaddeus, the blood-thirsty minions of Herod’s head enforcer. That’s it, isn’t it?

Christians, this is what your child is going to take from The Star. And do you know why they’ll associate the birth of your savior with such inanities? Because none of the elements of the traditional Nativity tale are half as riveting to the average seven-year-old boy as a fart joke. The director knew this; the writer knew this; the producers knew this; so they all attempted to repackage the works as an animated version of Smokey and the Bandit. Can Mary birth our Lord before the Sheriff puts the hammer down? Except that this movie isn’t about Mary; it’s about Bo, the donkey. Well, of course it is.

When we meet Bo (voice of Steven Yeun), he doesn’t have a name, but he does have a dream. When he gets out of this endless turnstile, he’s gonna be part on the king’s entourage. Oh, imagine being a beast of burden in front of crowds! What I wouldn’t give to be whipped by a higher class of taskmaster. Meanwhile, an angel tells Mary (Gina Rodriguez) that she’s won the God lottery (the Godery?) and in nine months, she’s going to birth The Messiah. Good for her. And to mark the occasion, let’s put The Star in the night sky. Yep, that’s pretty much what happened: angel says, “*poof* you’re pregnant” and then a big star appears. Mary is blue-eyed, of course. That makes perfect sense. I mean, how does blue-eyed Jesus get that allele from mom otherwise? [Before you correct me, please ask yourself: “Do I really want to discuss the genetics of Jesus in this forum?”]Unfortunately, Blabby the Great-Mouthed Jerboa (Kristen Chenowith) tells everybody in the Holy Land whazzup with this Holy intervention, which – and I’m not kidding here—serves as the intel for the evil King Herod (Christopher Plummer).

Oh, here’s another something I didn’t know about these events: Mary was preggers when she married. Joseph (Zachary Levi, so sad that’s he’s gone from Tangled to cuckhold) finds out post-reception. Oh, hey jealousy … there’s gonna be one Hell of a “what child is this?” moment; it could get good. Rats, I mean jerboas, it doesn’t. Sigh. Yeah, may as well get back to the donkey. While hiding out, Bo finds Mary and a friendship is born. Then, of course, there are dogs and camels and sheep and a Dove. Cuz, why not?

While it doesn’t work as a Christian recruitment tool, The Star also doesn’t work as pure children’s entertainment. The kids around me were more taken with the crying infant than what was on screen. Maybe if the donkey could travel 200 MPH and had the name “Lightning McBo” would they be impressed, but I seriously doubt it. The jokes are all on the order of Tracy Morgan puerile, and we know this because Tracy voices the stooge camel alongside more reasonable gumshoe camels Deborah and Cyrus (Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry). You must know by now that it is beyond my power as a blabbermouth jerboa not to namedrop Tyler Perry. Well, Tyler’s quite used to one star by now. For him, I’ll call it The Star.

♪What ass is this
Who ‘scaped his bounds
And broke out from his keeping?
Whom hunters stalk and pigeons squawk
Is this donkey’s tale worth reaping?♫

Rated PG, 86 Minutes
Director: Timothy Reckart
Writer: Carlos Kotkin
Genre: Poorly considered propaganda
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: The kind of people who believe there is a war on Christmas
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: Average moviegoers

♪ Parody Inspired by “What Child Is This?”

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