Then we topped off the night with the absolutely awful movie “The Polar Express.” Awful? Yep, awful! And I’m not just saying this because the whole idea behind the movie is to get people to believe something that is patently not true – Santa Claus (yes, I have issues with people believing things that are not true). A bigger issue is that the movie is just poorly written and not compelling. In the course of what could very well be 2 hours in movie time (not viewing time), 3 or 4 kids become best friends and all have character arcs that are completely unbelievable (the girl becomes a leader, the poor boy comes to trust in others, and the main character learns to believe… in Santa and ghosts – Wizard of Oz style). But there is no attempt to develop these characters to make the character arcs believable – no background development, very little talking, etc. The story is basically just a series of pointless conflicts designed to keep the audience’s attention because people could die, even though you know no one will die – this is a Christmas movie after all! All of the action sequences should have been thrown out and the story should have focused on the characters. But, no, instead we have unbelievable character arcs (because there is no character development) with lots of pointless action. Some of the sequences seemed to be included just to highlight the animation capabilities of the animators.
To top it off, there is a song in the film that is just offensive. The poor boy, Billy (his name is the only one I remember), starts singing about how Christmas sucks because he’s poor and never gets anything. The girl joins in, turning it into a duet. But, rather than sympathize with him, she says, “So what! Christmas is great for me because I have decorations and presents and food and family.” Really! Listen to the exchange. It’s a “I’m not poor so I don’t give a crap about your sucky Christmases and you should value Christmas anyway, regardless of your socioeconomic status” song. Touching, huh? I came away from the movie thinking, “Was this an attempt by retailers to create a new myth surrounding Christmas that encourages consumption?” The moral of The Polar Express: Christmas IS the new religion. What a dumb movie… It’s bad enough, though, that you can laugh at how bad it is and come away from the movie having enjoyed making fun of it. Even so, I don’t recommend it.