I’m not known as the kind of guy who recommends you drop everything you’re doing on a Friday night and take off for the local movie theater.

But that’s what I want you to do tonight.

Tonight is an extraordinary evening for movie openings – and I want you to be a part of it, everyone who reads my column and everyone who visits WND.

“The Nativity Story,” the finest Christmas movie ever made, opens in theaters around the country tonight.

It’s a historic event. This is something you can tell your children and grandchildren about. They will be watching this movie on DVDs – or some other contraption – for generations to come. But you have an opportunity to be there on opening night.

Having had the pleasure of screening the movie more than a week ago, I can tell you it is more than I ever expected. It is not only the most realistic portrayal of the story of Jesus’ birth, it is entertaining in every sense of the word.

It has all the elements – action, drama, suspense, even some good laughs.

Why am I pushing you to go tonight? What’s wrong with waiting until closer to Christmas? What’s wrong with waiting until next year for the DVD?

Well, I admit it – I’m thinking about more than your entertainment needs. I’m thinking about more than your place in history and what you can tell your children and grandchildren. I’m thinking about a real contribution you can make to the process of redeeming our popular culture.

I’ve never been fond of protests and boycotts as means of changing the culture. I have always believed it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. After all, this news service you are reading right now was the result of just such an effort. Complaining about the job the news media were doing wasn’t my cup of tea. Launching a news service to do the job right was.

Oscar Isaac and Keisha Castle-Hughes as Joseph and Mary (New Line Productions)

Likewise, we can complain all day and all night about how awful and irresponsible Hollywood is – and we’d be right. But nothing would change. What changes things is when you and I respond in big ways to the few quality pictures that are made periodically.

“The Nativity Story” is one of those landmarks. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime events.

I have no doubts about the eventual success of this movie. But what gets Hollywood’s attention is not eventual success. It’s opening weekend.

That’s why you can’t wait for a more convenient time to go see it. It’s got to be tonight – or, at the very latest, tomorrow night. Let’s face it. You’re only going to get busier as we get closer to Christmas. Now is the best time to take the night off. It’s the best opportunity to kick off the Christmas season – and this movie will very quickly get you in the spirit of the season.

You won’t have any trouble remembering that Christmas is about that little savior in a manger after seeing “The Nativity Story.”

If Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” represents the definitive portrayal of the Crucifixion, “The Nativity” represents the definitive portrayal of the miracle birth of Jesus.

I’d like to see a modern-day miracle take place tonight – millions of Americans who seldom go to the movies suddenly motivated to do so tonight by the opening of “The Nativity Story.” It would send a big message to the entertainment industry – wholesome, family-oriented, Christian movies win at the box office.

Related special offer:

“MOVIEGUIDE?:The Family Guide to Movies & Entertainment”

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.