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I had high hopes for “The Nativity Story.” While there were a few moments worthy of praise, I have to say that this film was disappointing.

I won’t waste time quibbling over historical discrepancies in this adaptation. After all, the best moments of this movie are the awkward conversations between Mary and Joseph as they undertake the arduous journey to Bethlehem We have no idea if any such moments happened, and yet there is still a ring of authenticity to these scenes.

And I don’t even want to rant about the cheesy special effects and the heavily sentimental soundtrack that only detract from the story instead of enhancing it. And the intended comic relief of the three wise men–I don’t think the story of the nativity is one that benefits from a little levity.

But the biggest flaws in this “Nativity” stems from a desire to to be so reverential in its depiction of Christ’s birth that the humanity of the story is often lost in translation. When Jesus’ birth is backlit like something out of a Broadway musical, it seems to only distance the audience from this miracle.

The realness of this story comes in moments like when Joseph is struggling with the news that his new bride is pregnant, and he then asks God for a sign that this pregnancy is of supernatural means but gets no response. In that moment the audience is brought closer to the genuine drama of this historical event.

As Hollywood continues to try to understand the success of “The Passion” and attempts to reach the faithful moviegoers of America, I think they are overlooking the obvious. Part of “The Passion’s” success was because Gibson realized that the gospel is on one level, full of mystery; and on another level, it is a story that is meant to be found offensive by some.

“The Nativity” manages to challenge no one’s thinking and offers very little in the way of spiritual mystery. So maybe it is not such a mystery after all why so many Christians failed to show up at the theater last weekend.

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