Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with preaching to the converted -- secular Hollywood does it all the time. But I confess I wish the movie had some of the passion of The Passion of the Christ.
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.
This is not a chance to 'experience the most timeless of stories as you've never seen it before' but just the opposite: an opportunity, for those who want it, to encounter this story exactly the way it's almost always been told.
For those who are not pulled to this movie for its religious slant, there's no reason to go. There's nothing here for a serious movie-goer. Despite the sizeable budget, this is little more than a glossy Christmas tract.
Hollywood is in a born-again mode with its rediscovery that Biblical epics can bring manna at the boxoffice. In New Line Cinema's The Nativity Story we have the first smart, artistically and spiritually satisfying film to emerge from this trend.