You’ve heard of Christmas in July.
But what about Christmas in mid-February?
And Netflix made a curious decision with this Christmas movie that will leave you questioning their motivations.
Woke or Watch: Journey to Bethlehem, a Christmas musical
Netflix’ new musical, Journey to Bethlehem, is a unique telling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, but the streaming service made the odd decision to release the story of Christmas about a month and a half after the holiday.
One has to wonder if the motivation was innocent timing issues, or if the streaming giant may have wanted to bury the real story of Christmas.
Some answers might be found in how difficult it was to find Journey to Bethlehem on Netflix.
It was listed on the new releases, in the “only on Netflix” section, in the family night or true story categories, and not spotlighted despite looking for it on the first day of its release.
It was only after tying the word “journey” into the search bar that the movie finally popped up with a “new release” label.
Why would Netflix make Journey to Bethlehem so difficult to find?
Is it because the movie isn’t any good, or is it because it’s too good?
With those questions in mind, your Woke or Watch team reviews this new Christmas musical – yes, in February – to find answers.
Is it respectful to religion?
It is easy to see why many serious Christians would find this movie disrespectful, offensive, and even blasphemous at first glance.
The motion picture begins with a very whimsical tone and there’s little in the way of scripture and there are Biblical inaccuracies.
Some characters’ story arches were even altered to hit a more Hollywood-style of storytelling.
However, the movie admits they took artistic liberties, and the main plots and morals of the greatest story ever told remain intact.
And there are benefits to come from a more modern telling of the story of the immaculate conception.
Journey to Bethlehem is bright, light, and musical – potentially attracting a whole new and younger audience to the true reason for the Christmas season.
With any luck, that new, young audience will finish watching the movie and embark on their own journey seeking out a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The musical is filled with new original songs, remixes, and even some faithful classics.
It features an attractive soundtrack and viewers even learn that with a little help from autotune, Antonio Banderas can get your feet tapping.
The three Wiseman offer comic relief from the very serious subject matter throughout the hour and 38-minute running time, which will appeal to younger generations and truly makes the film a family affair.
Is it woke?
Unfortunately, this telling of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’ story isn’t without sprinklings of Hollywood’s woke agenda.
Only about six minutes into the movie, the Hollywood cliché of the held-back woman told to stay away from “men’s work” emerges.
The movie implies Mary only learned the readings of Judaism because her father didn’t have a son to teach them to.
However, it would be typical in that time for daughters to experience the teachings of Hebrew scriptures, making the feminism angle completely unnecessary.
The movie portrays Mary as initially reluctant to take on the role of mothering the son of God – partially because she feels unworthy, partially because she worries if she’ll be believed and partially because motherhood could inconvenience her goal of becoming a teacher and not just a wife and mother.
Fortunately for mankind, Mary accepts that she’s been chosen for a great purpose and does everything within her power to protect her unborn son.
Aside from the, almost mandatory at this point, feminist tropes — the movie stays away from other woke themes and simply provides a more modern-language telling of Christ’s birth.
With that in mind, Woke or Watch rates Journey to Bethlehem as mildly woke.
Is it worth watching?
The acting in Journey to Bethlehem is solid, especially Banderas’s portrayal of King Herod and Fiona Palomo as Mary.
There are a few delightfully catchy songs, for example, anything Palomo sings other than her opening number and Banderas’ Mine is the Power, Mine is the Glory.
While the jokes won’t send you rolling around the floor belly laughing, they will keep you smirking and smiling.
All of it is meant to introduce the real reason for Christmas to new audiences who may be turned off by the old-world language of the Bible.
Again, the movie makers take some big departures from the scripture, so, this is not a movie for someone who will be offended by anything other than a faithful telling of the Christmas story.
However, if you’re open to some artistic license, Journey to Bethlehem is an enjoyable but not exceptional movie suitable for the whole family and anyone who might be curious about accepting Jesus into their life or at least their holidays.