Let me start by saying I love creative storytelling and fresh perspectives around timeless stories. I'm not sure how often a true story has been made into an animated feature, but "The Star" caught my attention because of its unique angle. But watching any Christmas movie after December 25 is hard for me...but I did it. After watching "The Star" flop in the box office I felt the need to watch it. Some films seem poorly timed on their release, others don’t have the star power or relevance to make it, and the rest are usually just terrible. But "The Star" feels like it created a 4th category to my made up aforementioned points - it was released pre-Christmas as a Christmas movie (good), it had more star power than I’ve seen in almost any animated movie (good), and it’s not terrible (good, but not great either). We’re not here to speculate box office drama, but this film puzzles me as to why it tanked. I think it makes for a good rental, especially around the holidays, but let's dive deeper into this movie.
The Star (2017)
The Star (2017)
Rework the script and you might have something
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
DVD or Streaming >27in
I’d consider this a casting miracle. Seriously, how? I mean at some point you run out of money, schedules don’t work, and certain roles seem too small for A-listers. But man, they just went for it! And although a couple actors didn’t match perfectly to their characters, I felt the overall cast was well put together. There were a few moments where it was so clear they didn’t perform the scene with the others who were in their scene, and that was super unfortunate. For example, it felt like Oprah did her scenes over the weekend at her house, apart from Tyler Perry or Tracy Morgan who were her camel counterparts.
I think it’s approachable for all audiences. It’s not over the top religious - it is about the Christmas story - but it sort of teeters on religious themes and splapstick, which I think somewhat hurt its performance. Overall, we see our mostly animal cast on a journey - more than the human characters - which has good (and bad) moments of character development.
Great music but it is all over the place stylistically. It’s fun, but it’s sort of in your face. I can’t complain too much, but it just felt like they were trying to jam a lot in there - like we heard the entire Christmas album.
Its creative and fun with some funny scenes thanks to Keegan-Michael Key (“Dave” the bird). The comedians didn’t entirely come through, but they sure tried to insert lots of jokes. It felt pretty scripted, but I liked the idea of the story. My biggest problem was the antagonist - this movie does not have a convincing or compelling problem. Because Mary and Joseph are seemingly oblivious to Herrod’s plan, we are left with a donkey saving the world. Now, I’m down for that sort of a story (as crazy as I sound), but you’ve got to do it ever so carefully and creatively. I think the dogs and big Roman soldier (the antagonists) were more annoying to the plot than they were menacing or pushing the narrative along. Because I see the story from a human perspective and thereby relate to Mary and Joseph I never felt the angst the donkey, “Bo” (played by Steven Yeun) and all his animal friends, feel. I guess what I’m saying is that the overall creative twist is fun, except when the donkey is creating this alternate universe version of what happened - it’s a tough sell to their ideal audience.
From the first time I saw the trailer I didn’t love the animation style, but the visual style grew on me as I watched it. It’s still a style that is more kid-like than adult-friendly and it does feel slightly cheaper than other animated theatrical releases. That being said, “The Star’s” art department stuck to their style and I think it was good.
My long winded comments in the Story section speak for what I would say here. To boil it down, the antagonist’s strength/power wasn’t felt by every character and I think it tremendously weakens the reason for why someone would be engaged throughout the film. Tweak that and I think you’ve got something more interesting yet still pretty basic.