Sibling Rivalry

It’s a cautionary tale for parents, and one whose message will resonate with children: the new DreamWorks telling of the biblical tale of Joseph in the animated direct-to-video film “Joseph: King of Dreams.”In a style similar to that of “The Prince of Egypt,” which told the story of Moses, “Joseph: King of Dreams” imagines the childhood of Joseph and illustrates the dangers of favoring one child and the extremes to which sibling rivalry can lead. Animated by their jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sell their preferred brother to Egyptian slave traders. It’s an act they come to regret.

Fortunately for Joseph, he has an ability to interpret dreams, a talent that ultimately helps move him from slavery to a position as a powerful advisor in the court of the Egyptian pharaoh.

In Egypt, happily married and a father himself, Joseph one day encounters his own brothers, who have come to plead for food. It is a time of famine, a situation that Joseph had foreseen, and for which Egypt was well-prepared due to Joseph’s accurate interpretation of a recurrent dream Pharaoh had had.

Although he is now a powerful grown man, Joseph struggles with himself over how to treat his brothers, as his hurt, anger and desire to be loved by his family emerge once again – a situation with which any child could identify. And we see Joseph’s wish to forgive and help his family win out over his desire for revenge – a useful lesson to all.

The film ends with a joyous but sad reunion with his beloved father, Jacob; sad because of all the lost years when they weren’t together, joyous because they finally found each other. Then Joseph welcomes the family, and they live with him in the palace.

It’s a well-told and compelling story, one your children will find riveting. In fact, 9-year-old Tzvia Berrin-Reinstein has this to say: “I think if kids liked ‘The Prince of Egypt,’ they’ll like ‘Joseph: King of Dreams,’ [which has] the same kind of characters.” Tzvia especially liked “the music,” and “Joseph’s coat, which was all shiny.” Asked if she would like to watch it again, the answer was a resounding “Yes.”

The film includes the voices of Ben Affleck (“Shakespeare in Love,” “Armageddon”), Mark Hamill (“Star Wars”), Steven Weber (TV’s “Wings”), and Judith Light (TV’s “Who’s the Boss?”) and features five new songs by John Bucchino, sung by Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”), David Campbell and Maureen McGovern.

It is directed by Robert Ramirez and Rob LaDuca and produced by Ken Tsumura, with a screenplay by Eugenia Bostwick-Singer, Raymond Singer, Joe Stilman and Marshall Goldberg.

The movie is currently in release. Look for it in your local video store.