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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: The birth of baby Jesus is a touchy subject in and of itself, but it probably wouldn't be so bad if the film wasn't a comedy where the animals are the main characters. Even worse is that it's set to be released by the same creator and distributor as The Emoji Movie (as well as a majority of works with mediocre reception at best, such as the Smurfs movies) and just a few mere months after its disastrous reception. Its box office conversely had a smaller initial opening debut than their former movies.
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  • Awesome Art: For a low-budget film, the backgrounds are very well-detailed and provide quite a lot of Scenery Porn.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
  • Memetic Mutation: Due to the first trailer's negative reception and the fact that it advertises the film as being from the creators of Miracles from Heaven and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (the latter has been overall well-received), some have mockingly suggested that "From the creators of The Emoji Movie" should have been used instead, due to the period of rampant studio mismanagement that SPA is suffering from.
  • Older Than They Think: The main premise of the film, which is the Nativity Story told from the perspective of animals, was previously made by Rankin/Bass Productions' Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey in 1977.
  • Snark Bait: Even before its release, the film was criticized for its premise about the birth of baby Jesus where the animals serve as the leading characters, which some have deemed to be insulting. In addition, Sony Pictures Animation released the incredibly reviled Emoji Movie just a few months prior, which really hasn't helped this film's case.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Critical reception has so far been wedged in this territory, with more than a few stating that, while not the type of film one would write home about, it's still viewed as an enjoyable movie. At the very least, it's mostly considered better than The Emoji Movie (though considering how low a bar that film set for SPA...)
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  • Tainted by the Preview: The teaser trailer was not exactly all too well-received by a lot of people, with criticisms directed towards the low-quality animation (courtesy of an $18 million budget), the apparent comedic tone, and, as noted several times, the fact that it focuses on the animals rather than the humans.
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