The Star (originally titled The Lamb) is a 2017 American computer-animated Christian comedy film directed by Timothy Reckart. Based on the Nativity of Jesus, and off an original idea by Tom Sheridan, the screenplay was written by Carlos Kotkin and Simon Moore. It was produced by Sony Pictures Animation, The Jim Henson Company, Franklin Entertainment, Walden Media and Affirm Films. The film features the voices of Steven Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Keegan-Michael Key, Kelly Clarkson, Patricia Heaton, Kristin Chenoweth, Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey. The Star had its world premiere in Los Angeles at the Regency Village Theater on November 12, 2017 and was released by Columbia Pictures through its parental label Sony Pictures Entertainment on November 17, 2017 in the United States.
A small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day, he finds the courage to break free, embarking on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave, a dove who has lofty aspirations. Along with three camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told -- the first Christmas.
- Despite the movie taking place around the time of Jesus' birth, it doesn't focus much on the important story it should tell. Instead, it tends to rely more on generic comedy and barely touches on the setting and concept, if at all.
- Stereotypical and annoying characters, especially the camels.
- The story is generic, unoriginal and cliched.
- It doesn't stay true enough to the Bible.
- Very cringeworthy, unfunny and inappropriate attempts at getting laughs from the audience. For example, one scene uses a prolonged closeup on an old donkey's anus, which is apparently so funny to the filmmakers that they needed to show it twice.
- One of the animals literally uses twerking as a distraction, which is spoiled by trailers.
- All the comic relief characters have to rely on being annoying to be funny, especially with Ruth and Dave.
- The movie's primary physical antagonists are just one unnamed Roman "hunter" and his two dogs, rather instead a group of Roman soldiers to finding Jesus to preventing of destroying Herod as the 'New King' of Jewish people, as if, he that concerns about his regime. While King Herod himself, the minor real antagonist in the New Testament and the main background antagonist in the Birth of Jesus story, is treating as the only supportive antagonist in the film.
- They got Oprah Winfrey, a false teacher, in the voice cast just so the film could appeal to the tween demographic itself.
- The idea of the movie has been stolen from Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, The Night the Animals Talked and The Lion of Judah.
- Plot hole: When the Hunter looks into the manger where Mary and Joseph are out of sight, the goat, horse and cow can't be seen either. It looks completely empty. Bo never spoke of the Hunter or the dogs to the manger animals, but they hid? Plus when the pygmy jerboa comes in warning everyone, tho three animals don't react, as if they know they know the threat is gone, without ever being told about it.
- The film does such a poor job at staying true to the Bible that some could say the film actually mocks the story, since Deborah is repeatedly called insane for believing in the son of God.
- "THE STORY OF THE FIRST CHRISTMAS" is much too arbitrary of a slogan.
- The film tried to portray itself as a Christian movie by retelling an old tale in the Bible about the birth of Jesus from the animal's perspective, and also has a lot of religious themes and culture about the time period the film takes place in to have the sense that it is about the story of Jesus that is more focused on the animal characters rather than the human characters. But even with all of that in mind, it does a horrendous job at using the Bible of Jesus and the iconic themes that come along with how Jesus was born due to the large amount of modern film clichés and tropes the film is over-stuffed with, and the extremely juvenile humour that comes across as unfunny at most, and also the fact that many aspects of the old iconic tale have been heavily modernised to the point where they are now unrecognisable as a result, and make the film feel more like a parody of the Birth of Jesus story rather than a unique retelling of the iconic tale of Jesus and how he blessed the world when he was born in a barn from his Mother Mary at Bethlehem.
- Despite the animation being decent, there are also some problems with it such as the poor lighting on the backgrounds and areas that look overall dated and cheap, and the stilted character movements that feel choppy and overall stiff, making it look more like one of Sony’s direct-to-DVD sequels.
- The animation is pretty decent, even if it’s rendered like one of Sony Pictures Animation’s recent direct-to-DVD movies.
- Great voice acting, with one major standout being Zachary Levi as Joseph.
- The score from John Paesano and music (especially Mariah's Carey's "The Star") is really good.
- Mary and Joseph are good and likable characters.
- There are some funny moments.
- Despite the idea being stolen, the concept of using talking animals in a American animated Biblical film is somewhat interesting for once, even if its wasted and somewhat poorly executed.
The Star was met with mixed reviews by critics and audiences. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an average rating by critics of 43% based on 53 reviews, with an average rating of 4.94/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Star may not leave audiences singing 'Hallelujah', but its offbeat yet sincere approach to the nativity story makes for acceptably diverting holiday viewing.". On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 42 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
- This is Sony Pictures Animation's first theatrical release to not include the Columbia Pictures logo at the beginning. It might be unusual for a Sony Pictures Animation theatrical release.
- Due to the first trailer's negative reception and the fact that it advertises the film as being from the creators of Miracles from Heaven and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (the latter has been overall well-received), some have mockingly suggested that "From the creators of The Emoji Movie" should have been used instead, due to the period of rampant studio mismanagement SPA suffered from at the time of this film's production.