• by Wes Singleton

The Star, B

Rated PG, 86 minutes

The charming, heartwarming new animated film from Sony Pictures, "The Star" is nothing new, but with a star-studded cast and some decent tunes, it's hard to mess up telling the Nativity story, this time from the perspective of the animals involved.

A small but brave donkey named Bo ("The Walking Dead's" Steven Yeun) yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth ("Saturday Night Live's" Aidy Bryant), a loveable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave (Keegan-Micheal Key), a dove with lofty aspirations. Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told - the first Christmas.

The predictable but entertaining faith-based animated film "The Star" is directed by Timothy Reckart and written by Carlos Kotkin. There are plenty of silly, colorful moments as it tells the story of the very first Christmas, though Christians shouldn't be disappointed: it doesn't alter the Nativity story too much, though it probably overplays the role of the donkey in the story, and in the donkey's raising of Jesus himself.

"The Star" is laid-back and energetic enough that even non-Believers or those unfamiliar with the story will enjoy it too, and if nothing else they'll get a kick out of hearing Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Tracy Morgan as the three wisecracking animals, a scene-stealing Emmy-winner Keegan-Michael Key as a hammy, singing bird, Kelly Clarkson as a horse and familiar Oscar-winning voice Christopher Plummer as King Herod.

The best thing about "The Star" is its soundtrack and the effective use of new versions of some classic and contemporary tunes varying from "O Holy Night" to "Mary, Did You Know" to the title tune, sung by the diva herself, Mariah Carey. Its story holds few surprises (hint: there's a baby involved), but it's so darn likable you may not mind, and it's a film that's suitable for the whole family.

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