Parents' Guide to

Journey to Bethlehem

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Nativity musical has humor, faith, hope; some peril.

Movie PG 2023 98 minutes
Journey to Bethlehem Movie Poster: A collage of images of the movie's characters around the title in gold

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 18+

God Will Not Be Mocked!

Hollywood got it wrong once again! (go figure) This film IS NOT something you want to go see, let alone take children to, please don’t! Warning: It’s a musical….nuff said! 🙄 Oh, and it tries to come across as a comedy as well! I personally didn’t think any of it was funny! Borderline Blasphemy in my opinion. We should of walked out in the beginning (We actually thought about it) but wanted to get a clear picture as to warn others. Hollywood portrays Mary as a defiant, head strong, whiney, rebellious and disrespectful little girl who doesn’t want to get married. The Bible portrays her as the opposite. Hollywood portrays Joseph as a young, out of work dreamer who is a bit of a womanizer even though he was betrothed to Mary, but the Bible calls him an older and just man. Joseph calls himself an inventor but the Bible says he’s a Carpenter. Hollywood portrayed Joseph as the weaker one of the two and Mary as the stronger one, Joseph even cooked a meal and Mary said he could do it all the time, Jewish tradition would never allow that. The Hollywood agenda of degrading men lives on! Hollywood portrayed them both as children ruled by their parents and when Mary was pregnant her father basically told her to leave. The Bible says Mary went to her Cousin Elizabeth and returned to Joseph 3 months later. Hollywood had a confused Joseph come running to Mary begging for her forgiveness for not coming with her and believing her in the first place that she was with child yet still a virgin. Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel according to the Bible but Hollywood made Gabriel a bumbling, clumsy fool with glowing green eyes that talks to himself. The Bible says Gabriel visited Joseph to tell him to go to Mary but Hollywood had Joseph fighting his self with a good guy (dressed In white) and a bad guy (dressed in black) routine, singing a song dancing around with Roman soldiers! Hollywood had the wise men portrayed by fools constantly arguing with themselves instead of Wise Kings. Hollywood had the 3 wise men on a journey to find Mary, Joseph and Jesus and had them with Jesus the night of his birth. The Bible clearly states that the wise men showed up when Jesus was approximately 2 years of age. (Yes, every single manger scene with wise men in them is wrong) The Bible says an angel appeared to the Shepards to announce the arrival of Jesus birth, but Hollywood decided to toss in the 3 wise men as well! 🙄 Hollywood portrayed Herod as a bumbling fool that was seemingly worried his son would take his crown. The Bible doesn’t mention a son in the 4 Gospels. Hollywood had Herod’s son looking for Jesus and actually finding him, only to let him go in an act of defiance against his father King Herod and also the fact that Mary insisted he let them go. It was implied that Herod’s son might of turned into a believer, but that’s doubtful. Also: they had Herod’s son warn Joseph and Mary about Herod when the Bible clearly says it was an Angel that warned them. The Bible says that Herod had all infants 2 years and younger killed in hopes one of them would be Jesus. Hollywood had Herod’s son try to stop him. There are numerous more things that Hollywood got wrong but that’s typical of these types of movies. My fear is that some people will accept this as truth without ever really knowing the truth. Every single song in the movie were new scores that if you actually looked at the words I’m sure you could pick apart the “theology” (for lack of a better word) in them. This movie IS NOT about the Greatest Story Ever Told, it’s about Hollywood pushing the Hollywood agenda and making money in doing so. God is not glorified in this movie at all. Bottom line: Biblical Truth - 0 out of 5 popcorn bags. Comedic Relief - 0 out of 5 popcorn bags. Musical Score - 0 out of 5 popcorn bags. Value - 0 out of 5 popcorn bags.
age 4+

SUCH a Great Movie That Everyone Needs to See!

There has been some negative feedback regarding this movie but I saw it and LOVED it. I would feel comfortable watching this show with my kids, but really young kids might be slightly scared at a few parts if they are sensitive and aren't used to "mean people" on the big screen. Some say Mary was too rebellious and Joseph was a womanizer, but that didn't come across much at all, and this is a good encouragement and reminder to adults and teens that God can use anyone for His good, and no one is or was perfect except for Jesus himself. (and it also should be noted that Mary in "The Nativity Story" was just as rebellious and unhappy with her decision to be married to Joseph when she was first told, as well.) I do think parents need to be available to talk with kids and each other after this movie is over, just to see their perceptions and compare it to what is in the Bible vs. what we have been taught in church and Bible classes. There is nothing that would conflict with the Bible, in my opinion, and nothing that would deter anyone from believing in the story of Jesus' birth. The soundtrack is amazing and I really loved that Christian artists such as Joel Smallbone, Lecrae, and Möriah were all actors in the movie, as well. They did a a phenomenal job. It definitely didn't give me the "cheesy Christian movie" vibes that so often happens in movies such as these. This is a movie I would watch again and again, whether it is Christmas or not. This is truly a great movie and a story that needs to be told over and over again. The director and everyone involved did an amazing job at taking an old story and adding life to it again without distorting the story.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (9 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This is a heartfelt, charming musical twist on the classic nativity story. Director/co-writer Adam Anders (Glee, Rock of Ages) blends traditional Christmas music (like "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel") with new songs to retell the familiar story of the Nativity. The result is part coming-of-age tale (Mary and Joseph), part comedic buddy road trip (the three wise men), and part dynastic family drama (King Herod and Antipater). Palomo and Manheim are dynamic young performers, and Banderas' scenery-chewing portrayal is outsized but manages not to tip too far into camp. Contemporary Christian singer Smallbone is also notable as Antipater, and the three wise men are useful comic relief amid the otherwise more serious proceedings. The ensemble also includes other Christian singers, including Moriah (who's also Smallbone's wife) and Grammy-winning rapper Lacrea, who stands out as the angel Gabriel. There's even a trusty donkey named Fig that doesn't speak but is sure to delight younger viewers.

The musical works well as a pop counterpoint to the rock-opera musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which focuses on Jesus' ministry and death. The songs are earnest and catchy, ranging from upbeat to pensive to funny. And renowned Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman teamed up with We the Kingdom for the end-credits song, "Brand New Life." But this isn't just for families of faith: Journey to Bethlehem is a surprisingly effective musical that should appeal to all families who appreciate holiday movies.

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