Donkeys don’t dream. Well, not in an aspirational, “follow your dreams” way, at any rate.
But Boaz is no normal donkey. Marching in a circle grinding grain is not Bo’s vision of destiny fulfilled. No, Bo and his friend, Dave the dove, harbour royal aspirations: marching at the vanguard of the king’s caravan.
Bo breaks his bonds and flees his angry owner, but an injury to one hoof keeps him from fleeing far. He soon takes refuge in the courtyard of a young couple named Joseph and Mary. And the tender-hearted, miraculously pregnant young woman tends to Bo’s hurt hoof.
Meanwhile, a dazzling, mysterious star has appeared in the heavens. That blazing object prompts three wise men and their camels—Deborah, Cyrus and Felix—to begin the long journey toward, well, actually, they don’t know quite where. But they’re convinced the celestial sign portends the birth of a king.
Someone else has taken anxious notice of the star too: King Herod. It means something. But he’s not sure what. The unexpected arrival of the three visitors from the East only amplifies his paranoia, especially when they carry on about bringing gifts for a king—a different king than Herod.
Back in Nazareth, the birth of Mary’s baby is now fast approaching, but she and Joseph must take a long trip to Bethlehem for a census ordered by Herod. Little do they realise that their craven ruler has ordered a speechless, ogre-like henchman and his two fearsome dogs to track down the identity of this would-be king… and end his reign before it begins.
Thankfully, Bo makes the perilous journey with them, fulfilling a bigger destiny than he could have guessed in his wildest donkey dreams.
Throughout the film, Bo, Dave and a sheep named Ruth (whom they meet along the way) encourage and help each other as they try to protect Joseph and Mary from Herod’s hunter and his dogs. Bo is also willing to sacrifice his dream (as is Dave) to protect Mary once it’s clear that she’s in peril.
Conflicts occasionally threaten to split up Bo, Ruth and Dave. But during one falling out, Ruth implores desperately, “Flocks stick together!”
Elsewhere, Bo tries to convince Dave to pursue their original dream on his own. But Dave replies, “The royal caravan was our dream. But the best part was that it was gonna be us. If all I wanted was to flap around a bunch of funny wagons, I would have done that a long time ago. Look, you lead the way. And wherever you go, your best friend, Dave, will be right behind you.”
An old donkey with whom Bo grinds grain plays a key part in helping Bo escape the mill at an opportune moment.
No sexual content. But Joseph and Mary do have a veiled conversation about how she could have become pregnant that is—understandably—difficult for Joseph to comprehend and accept.
The soldier who hunts Mary and Joseph with his two dogs, Rufus and Thaddeus, never speaks, lending him an ominous and foreboding feel. A couple of times he’s about to pounce on Mary when Bo and Co. manage to divert him. We see him begin to pull a sword, and it’s clear that he means Mary mortal harm. We also see the soldier choke someone. The animals protecting Mary knock the silent soldier into a well at one point, and over the top of a tall bridge in another scene. (After the fall, we see him unconscious, or perhaps dead, on the ground below.)
Speaking with his scribes, Herod threatens, “If you people can’t find this one child, then I’ll have to kill them all.”
OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS
Dave the dove says “Nazareth can kiss my gleaming white tail feathers goodbye.” And when he coaches Bo on trying to escape from Mary and Joseph’s courtyard (an idea Bo briefly entertains early on), Dave says a “well-placed No. 2” will motivate the humans to get rid of him. Dave also quips, “I gotta be honest: I’m very upset right now. I’m gonna go find somebody to poop on.” After Bo falls on Dave, the donkey can’t find his friend, prompting Dave to say, “I’m right here on your butt.”
The Star, thankfully, will not be joining that list. Tyler Perry, one of many A-list stars to lend their voices to this production, said of it, “This is such a clever and genius way to tell the real meaning of Christmas. I was honoured to be a part of it.”
Apart from some intense moments of perilous pursuit that might be frightening to very young or sensitive viewers, the film’s only other content issues all have to do with occasional bathroom humour—usually courtesy of Dave the dove.
“Reviews are not an endorsement by Focus on the Family Singapore but a means of helping determine whether a movie is appropriate for their children.”
This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.