The director of The Grinch and The Secret Life of Pets is the same filmmaker behind an inspiring new Christmas children’s film that features the voice of Andy Griffith -- who died eight years ago.
Confused? Don’t be.
The animated family film, The Three Wise Men, originally was released on DVD in 2006 but was released on digital home video for the first time this Christmas season. It is streaming for free for Amazon Prime members.
The husband-and-wife filmmaking team of Yarrow and Carrie Cheney wrote it and directed it. Both have major credits to their name: He co-directed The Grinch (2018) and The Secret Life of Pets (2016). She was involved in the animation team of The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002).
The 25-minute film tells the story of the wise men on their journey to worship the Christ child. Griffith narrates it.
The idea for the project began 28 years ago, when Yarrow and Carrie were in the animation program at the California Institute of the Arts.
The Cheneys are Christian.
“It was our first or second conversation in our cubicle that we shared,” Carrie Cheney told Christian Headlines. “And we were talking about, ‘What are your favorite kinds of animation?’ … And really fast, we ended up on the Christmas specials from the 1960s.”
They asked each other: Why doesn’t anyone make that type of show anymore?
“And we said one day as professionals, we should try to add one to the lineup,” she said. “And so we made this pact.”
Years later, in 1999, the two brainstormed and landed on an idea for an animated film about the magi.
“It was like a God moment,” she said. “And I told Yarrow, ‘I just saw these words across my mind: the three wise men.’”
The 2020 digital version includes a new song by Grammy winner Jonas Myrin, the co-writer of 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord).
For the narration of The Three Wise Men, the Cheneys wanted an iconic storyteller who would be viewed similarly to the well-known voices of the 1960s. Andy Griffith was an obvious choice, they said.
“He was such a gracious person,” Yarrow Cheney told Christian Headlines. “He was so supportive of the project and us. … He has that voice where people want to invite him into their home and have him tell stories. … He was everything you hoped he would be.”
Photo courtesy: ©Aspiration Entertainment
Video courtesy: ©Aspiration Entertainment
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.