Even if you’re super into Santa Clause stories (which, for the record, I am not), the sheer number of generic, almost made-for-TV type movie options along these lines that can be found on Netflix right now is a little ridiculous.
Between those and the sappy cookie-cutter PG romance-in-the-snow movies abounding this time of year, I was surprised to find that there are at least two Christmas movies on Netflix right now that are downright religious in their content – imagine!
The first is the computer-animated Nativity movie The Star, which was in theaters at this time last year. And the other is the short, half-hour Netflix original animated film “Angela’s Christmas,” which was a pretty pleasant little surprise.
The Staris cute, fun, and pretty solid in its story
The Star centers mostly on the animals involved in the Nativity of Christ – or animals that could have been involved. Mainly, it’s about a donkey named Bo who ends up carrying Mary to Bethlehem and saving the Holy Family from Herod’s henchman.
The film (predictably) takes a bit of creative license with the story as we know it from the Bible, but probably a lot less so than like any of the film versions of the Exodus story.
I can’t say I was super impressed with its portrayal of St. Joseph – a little too much of a whiner/worry wort, but I guess you’ve gotta get conflict from somewhere (and we certainly don’t want to see an imperfect Mary, after all!).
Most of the animal characters are pretty fun and full of lines that are funny to both kids and adults – without crossing into that sly “adult” humor that cartoons sneak in all too often.
There was a little potty humor here and there, but not that frequent. And a bit of peril that could scare littler kids, but on the whole this is a pretty solid choice for religious Christmas entertainment.
“Angela’s Christmas” is sweet, heartwarming, and surprisingly Catholic
This one I didn’t actually realize was a short film until we started watching it. I just saw that it was a cartoon about a little girl and a nativity scene, and I was intrigued.
It’s set in Ireland in the old days, about a poor family consisting of a single mom and four kids – not explicitly stated, but it’s hinted that the father has died.
It’s freezing outside, and as the family ventures out to Mass, the mom makes sure the kids are all bundled up. Well, little Angela then realizes that Baby Jesus in the nativity scene at the church isn’t bundled up at all and will surely “catch His death.” So she takes matters into her own hands.
My four-year-old actually didn’t like this one that much, as he was sure the girl was being naughty and going to get in trouble for trying to take care of the Baby Jesus statue. But he liked it at the end.
The one thing that troubled me slightly in this one is that the mother exclaims at one point in a way that could be considered taking Christ’s name in vein, though it’s one of those circumstances where it’s like a sort-of-prayer and I wouldn’t judge someone for it in real life – but it came across a little iffy.
Over all, though, “Angela’s Christmas” has a sweet message and is dripping with Catholic elements in a way that you almost never find in mainstream film.