"Polar Express" to be completely entertaining and enjoyable. Don't
let the G rating fool you. This is a sophisticated story with
interesting characters. It's not just another kid's movie.
Something that's really nice about "Polar Express" is that it
isn't just an empty showcase for spectacular visuals. This is a great
story with great characters. A boy who's just getting old enough to
figure out that Mom and Dad are Santa Claus is faced with a dilemma.
Should he continue to believe what he knows isn't true?
On Christmas Eve he's offered a ride to the North Pole on a huge
magical train. No one forces the boy to get on the train. It's his
choice. When he gets to the North Pole, he can decide for himself
whether Santa is real. On board the train, he meets an assortment of
characters, including a wise little girl, a vulnerable smaller boy, a
conductor with a special talent for punching tickets and a hobo who
sees himself as King of the North Pole. All the while, he's got to
decide for himself whether or not to believe in Santa.
This brings up one of my pet peeves about most Christmas movies. I
hate sentimentality without real meaning. The idea that happiness
comes from just mindlessly believing in Santa and an empty brain
means more joy has never given me a rosy holiday glow.
"Polar Express" doesn't fall into this trap, and that's part of
the reason why I love this movie. The hero boy learns that Santa
Claus and sleigh bells are symbols and reminders that Christmas
spirit comes from optimism, trust, and caring. Like getting on the
"Polar Express" and deciding whether there is a Santa, embracing this
spirit is your choice. It's a sentimental message, but free will
trumps blind faith every day of the week.
Another reason I love this movie is Tom Hanks. "Polar Express" is
a showcase for his energy and talent. He plays at least half of the
cast, but makes every character special and unique. There are a
couple of characters who resemble Hanks physically, but those aren't
the only ones that use his voice. It was a surprise to me to see in
the credits that the young hero boy is played by Hanks.