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"THE NATIVITY STORY"
(2006) (Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar Isaac) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
*Minor Mild Extreme *Moderate Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
None None Moderate None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None Heavy Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young couple makes a perilous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem where the birth of God's son will occur.
PLOT:
In the town of Nazareth, things are so bad for Joaquim (SHAUN TOUB), Anna (HIAM ABBASS) and their family -- thanks to King Herod (CIARÁN HINDS) and the taxes his soldiers collect from everyone -- they decide to marry off their daughter Mary (KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES) to Joseph (OSCAR ISAAC), a good man but someone Mary hardly knows.

The fact that they won't yet consummate their marriage doesn't console Mary who goes off to collect her thoughts. It's in that olive grove that Archangel Gabriel (ALEXANDER SIDDIG) appears and informs her that she's been chosen by God to bear His child who will be known as Jesus.

Realizing no one will believe such a story, Mary sets out to visit her cousin Elizabeth (SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO) whose husband Zechariah (STANLEY TOWNSEND) has received similar news that his barren wife will bear them another child. It is then that Mary miraculously becomes pregnant, a development that doesn't sit well with her parents or especially Joseph who's viewed as a cuckold by everyone else.

Yet, a more dire development has arisen. Knowing of the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, King Herod has ordered that his men -- led by Tero (SAID AMADIS) -- find and kill this future leader, resulting in a wave of infanticide throughout the lands. When that doesn't work, he orders that a census be taken, resulting in everyone having to return to their ancestral home, an act he hopes will ferret out the future king.

That results in Joseph and Mary setting off on a perilous, one-hundred mile journey to Bethlehem. At the same time, and also aware of the prophecy, the Magi -- Melchior the scholar (NADIM SAWALHA), Balthasar the astronomer (ERIQ EBOUANEY) and Gaspar (STEFAN KALIPHA) the translator -- set off on an even longer trek to be there for the historic birth. From that point on, Joseph and Mary try to avoid Herod's soldiers and other obstacles as they make their way to Bethlehem.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're interested in the Biblical story, they probably will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For some violent content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES plays a teen who not only finds herself married off to a man she barely knows, but also pregnant with God's son. She must then put up with her family and the town's reaction to the latter, as well as her perilous journey with Joseph to Bethlehem.
  • OSCAR ISAAC plays her new husband in every way except for that which produces children. A good man, he has a hard time believing Mary did not cheat on him until he has a heavenly vision that makes him a believer.
  • HIAM ABBASS and SHAUN TOUB play Mary's parents who reluctantly marry her off to Joseph so that she'll have a more comfortable life, but are then upset when they believe she's slept with someone and thus become pregnant.
  • NADIM SAWALHA, ERIQ EBOUANEY, and STEFAN KALIPHA play the three wise men who partake in a long journey to be in Bethlehem for Christ's birth.
  • CIARÁN HINDS plays the ruthless king who's so worried about his position being usurped by the coming Messiah that he orders all male children under the age of two be murdered.
  • SAID AMADIS plays his right-hand soldier who carries out said infanticide.
  • SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO plays Mary's older cousin who's shocked when she discovers she's pregnant, while STANLEY TOWNSEND plays her husband who's equally surprised despite having received a Heavenly message that such an event would occur.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this PG-rated drama. While no profanity is heard, there's some brief but non-explicit, sexually related dialogue (and the overall notion of the Immaculate Conception).

    A king orders male infants be killed, and we see soldiers storm homes and it's implied they carry out that order, but we don't see the actual impact (although we do see one mother crying over her child's presumably dead body). Those scenes and other moments may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers, while some slightly bloody and strung-up bodies are briefly seen in passing.

    Various characters have bad attitudes, tense family material is present, and some characters may or may not drink wine. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are varying amounts of camera movement (sometimes a lot) at various points in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Joseph and Mary have something that may or may not be wine (during a ceremony).
  • Herod, the wise men, and others may have wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We briefly see two dead and slightly bloody men strung up in small trees along a road.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • King Herod and the officers and soldiers under his charge obviously have bad attitudes for their actions that include infanticide.
  • Mary's father is not pleased when he sees that she's pregnant. Her mother has the same reaction, with her father then asking if one of Herod's soldiers impregnated her (she continues to say she hasn't been with a man, but they don't believe her).
  • Others look down on Joseph and Mary (due to her being pregnant and him appearing to be a cuckold).
  • Others look down on Joseph and Mary (due to her being pregnant and him appearing to be a cuckold).
  • A man tries to steal from Joseph and Mary in Jerusalem.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The following may be unsettling for younger viewers or those with low tolerance levels for such material, but probably much less, if at all, for most everyone else.
  • Some of King Herod's soldiers storm a village, break into panicked villagers' homes, and grab the children. We see one draw his sword toward an infant, and while we don't see any impact, we do see a mother crying over a dead infant on the ground (no blood or details are seen -- and all of that's shot in quick edits).
  • Herod's men arrive to collect taxes from the villagers. When one man can't pay up, they forcibly take his daughter (causing him and his wife a great deal of distress while and after they struggle with the mother for the girl). They then tell Mary's father that they'll take his lone donkey as partial payment, with one official telling another to kill it as they already have enough. However, we later see that Joseph paid off the men for the donkey and he returns it to Mary to give to her father.
  • We briefly see and hear Elizabeth in labor, and then see the motion of her son being circumcised (we don't see the actual cutting but hear the baby's reaction).
  • We briefly see two dead and slightly bloody men strung up in small trees along a road.
  • Joseph comes across a crowd ready to stone Mary (for being pregnant) and he nearly joins them, but then awakens from this nightmare.
  • For those afraid of snakes, we briefly see some men handling them in a city.
  • We see soldiers grab one man and then see that several have been crucified, but their hands are tied rather than nailed to the crosses (and they're still alive).
  • A cow is sacrificed as part of a ceremony. We see a knife, but don't see the impact or results.
  • A woman nearly falls from her donkey.
  • Joseph and Mary set off on an arduous, hundred-some mile journey to Bethlehem where they must sleep outside and sometimes deal with not having enough food to eat.
  • While traversing a river, a water snake spooks the donkey on which Mary rides, causing her to fall off and start to be washed away, but Joseph saves her.
  • Mary has labor pains as Joseph tries to find a place for her to have her baby.
  • We briefly see soldiers storming homes looking for Jesus, and then entering the farm where Mary gave birth to Jesus. When they get to the manager, it's empty.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Some of King Herod's soldiers storm a village, break into panicked villagers' homes, and grab the children. We see one draw his sword toward an infant, and while we don't see any impact, we do see a mother crying over a dead infant on the ground (no blood or details are seen -- and all of that's shot in quick edits).
  • A cow is sacrificed as part of a ceremony. We see a knife, but don't see the impact or results.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • None.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful and dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • It's stated that Mary will consider Joseph her husband in all matters normally associated with that, except for that which leads to a family (meaning sex).
  • Mary receives a vision from an angel that she will conceive and have a child named Jesus. That prompts her to ask how as she's never been with any man. We then hear her narration asking how anyone will believe her or understand.
  • We see Joseph shirtless in bed.
  • We see the bare behind of Mary's baby after He's born.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Some of King Herod's soldiers storm a village, break into panicked villagers' homes, and grab the children. We see one draw his sword toward an infant, and while we don't see any impact, we do see a mother crying over a dead infant on the ground (no blood or details are seen -- and all of that's shot in quick edits).
  • Herod's men arrive to collect taxes from the villagers. When one man can't pay up, they forcibly take his daughter (causing him and his wife a great deal of distress while and after they struggle with the mother for the girl).
  • Herod tells his young adult son that he won't become ruler if he betrays him (while mentioning a previous wife and two sons who did that -- then asking, "Where are they now?").
  • Mary's father is not pleased when he sees that she's pregnant. Her mother has the same reaction, with her father then asking if one of Herod's soldiers impregnated her (she continues to say she hasn't been with a man, but they don't believe her).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The Biblical story and the film's portrayal of that.
  • A Heavenly voice tells Zechariah that he's going to have a son, John, who will be a prophet.
  • Mary learns that she's to marry Joseph (despite not really knowing him).
  • It's stated that Mary will consider Joseph her husband in all matters normally associated with that, except for that which leads to a family (meaning sex).
  • Mary's father says she's getting married since there isn't enough food to feed the family, with her mother saying she was married younger than Mary will be.
  • Mary receives a vision from an angel that she will conceive and have a child named Jesus. That prompts her to ask how as she's never been with any man. We then hear her narration asking how anyone will believe her or understand.
  • We briefly see the motion of Elizabeth's son being circumcised (we don't see the actual cutting but hear the baby's reaction).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some of King Herod's soldiers storm a village, break into panicked villagers' homes, and grab the children. We see one draw his sword toward an infant, and while we don't see any impact, we do see a mother crying over a dead infant on the ground (no blood or details are seen -- and all of that's shot in quick edits).
  • Herod's men arrive to collect taxes from the villagers. When one man can't pay up, they forcibly take his daughter (causing him and his wife a great deal of distress while and after they struggle with the mother for the girl).
  • We see soldiers grab one man and then see that several have been crucified, but their hands are tied rather than nailed to the crosses (and they're still alive).
  • A cow is sacrificed as part of a ceremony. We see a knife, but don't see the impact or results.



  • Reviewed November 3, 2006 / Posted December 1, 2006

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