You thought you knew the story of the first Christmas—BUT YOU WERE WRONG. An adventure-seeking donkey actually played a much larger role than the Gospels would have you believe. This timidly respectful animated story aimed at Christian families begins with Mary (voice of Gina Rodriguez) being visited by an angel in “Nazareth, 9 months B.C.,” which, OK, is pretty funny. Several months later, a wayward mill donkey, Bo (Steven Yeun), becomes the pet of Mary and Joseph (Zachary Levi), then uses his contacts in the animal kingdom—Dave the know-it-all dove (Keegan-Michael Key), Ruth the helpful sheep (Aidy Bryant) and so forth—to save them from King Herod's (Christopher Plummer) baby hunter and get them to the stable on time. Embellishments aside, Carlos Kotkin’s screenplay is faithful to the Gospel accounts, feinting at comedy while maintaining reverence and instilling positive spiritual values (several characters pray and receive answers), though it also pads out the thin story by adding unnecessary character squabbles. The animation, directed by Timothy Reckart, looks as plastic as a cheap Nativity set; on the other hand, Oprah voices a camel.
Director: Timothy Reckart
Producer: Jennifer Magee-Cook, DeVon Franklin, Brian Henson and Lisa Henson
Cast: Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Christopher Plummer, Ving Rhames, Gabriel Iglesias, Kelly Clarkson, Anthony Anderson, Patricia Heaton, Kris Kristofferson, Kristin Chenoweth, Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Tracy Morgan, Joel Osteen and Delilah