The Nativity Story

Rated PG 93 minutes

The first movie to premiere at the Vatican, this biblical drama from New Line Cinema was directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen), who knows something about teenage girls getting in trouble. Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) makes an appropriately soulful Mary, and the movie's most engaging scenes involve her mortified parents and mystified husband, Joseph (Oscar Isaac), trying to come to terms with her miraculous pregnancy. Compared to the crucifixion, the nativity doesn't offer as much inherent drama for secular viewers, but screenwriter Mike Rich (The Rookie) generates a fair amount of suspense by framing the action with Herod's slaughter of the innocents, and the journey of the Three Wise Men supplies a warm comedic subplot.

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