Movie Reviews: The Nativity Story
The congregation is pretty much divided equally over the artistic worth of The Nativity Story, although the critics appear to be less judgmental over it than they were over Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Actually neither side gets worked up one way or the other about it. A.O. Scott in the New York Times writes with little apparent enthusiasm: "Rather than trying to reinterpret or modernize a well-known, cherished story, the filmmakers have rendered it with a quiet, unassuming professionalism.." Gene Seymour in Newsday seems to indicate that the producers of the film fashioned it to avoid the controversy that descended on Passion. "The intent seems to be to release a movie about the Nativity that can be shown in living rooms and church schools for at least the next decade. If that's really all that was wanted or needed from The Nativity Story, the result could have been a lot worse. But keep in mind: The events it depicts inspired Handel's 'Messiah.'" To many critics, it's like thousands of Christmas plays staged all over the world. Bob Longino in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes: "There's no Passion-style violence, thankfully, but plenty of greeting-card sincerity and moral fortitude." Similarly, Rick Groen writes in the Toronto Globe and Mail: "Don't expect a Caravaggio, but if your taste turns to Hallmark, this is a good bet." Still, other critics find the film about as boring as some Sunday school lectures. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post calls it "a deadly dull, by-the-numbers rendition of the Nativity story. Even some of the many nuns at the screening I attended were shifting uncomfortably in their wimples." And Claudia Puig concludes in USA Today: "It's not exactly the dullest story ever told, but it's certainly not the greatest."