24 Dec 2018

CHRISTMAS MOVIES - The Polar Express (2004)

 Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do Christmas films follow their formula?

The Polar Express (2004) is a CGI animated film about a train trip to the North Pole without ever leaving the uncanny valley.

The following may contain spoilers for

"The Polar Express" (2004)



"There's no greater gift than friendship." ~ Mr C.
  • 1a.  Someone Who Hates Christmas - The hobo, ish. The loney boy, possibly.
  • 1b.  Someone Who Inflicts Christmas Cheer on Others - Not really.
  • 1c.  Precocious Kids - All of them except, the loney boy.
  • 1d.  A Bullied Kid - Anyone in contact with the know-all boy is low-level bullied.
  • 1e.  Silver-haired jovial old person - Santa.
  • 1f.  Someone with a secret - The hobo's a ghost.
  • 1g.  Stressed Young Female - None.
  • 1h.  The Single None.
  • 1i.  Someone Career Obsessed - None.
  • 1j.  Grumpy Old (usually) Man - The Hobo.
  • 1k.  Sassy Old (usually) Woman - The girl isn't old, but no doubt she will be.
  • 1l.  An Inappropriate Santa Impersonator - None.



"I'm looking for a girl." ~ The Boy.
"Well aren't we all?" ~ The Hobo.
  • 2a.  Nudity - None, obviously.
  • 2b.  Sex - None, obviously.



"Well, ya comin'?" ~ The Conductor.
"Where?" ~ The Boy.
"Why, to the North Pole, of course! This is the Polar Express!" ~ The Conductor.

  • 3a.  Home for the holidays - N/A.
  • 3b.  Santa may be real - The premise of the film.
  • 3c.  Classic Christmas stories may be homaged - The hobo operates a Scrooge puppet and accuses the main child of being like Scrooge.



"...It's five minutes to midnight." ~ The Conductor.
"Hey, what gives? It was five minutes to midnight four minutes ago!" ~ Know-It-All.
"Exactly!" ~ The Conductor.

A variety of genres:
  • 4a.  Straight comedy - Yes, as an animated film.
  • 4b.  Bitter-sweet family drama-comedy - A little.
  • 4c.  Animated fantasy (or puppets/muppets) - Animated CGI film.
  • 4d.  Bible retelling - No.



"And in case you weren't aware, tonight is Christmas Eve and in case you hadn't noticed: This train is on a very tight schedule! Now, young man, Christmas may not be important to some people. But, it is very important to the rest of US!" ~ The Conductor.

One or more of the following will occur:
  • 5a.  Ugly Christmas sweaters - Most characters are in pyjamas.
  • 5b.  Pulling Santa's beard - Doesn't happen.
  • 5c.  Carolers are annoying - Has a musical number. There are singing elves, but not annoying ones.
  • 5d.  Some kind of competition - A vague one over who gets the first present.
  • 5e.  Mistletoe - None.



"There would be no Christmas without the Polar Express arriving on time! Am I the only one who understands that? You! I should have known. Young man, are you bound and determined that this train never reaches the North Pole?" ~ The Conductor.

The following simple things are difficult, often comically so:
  • 6a.  Putting Up Christmas lights - Not an issue.
  • 6b.  Not walking out after a fight with family - Not an issue.
  • 6c.  Last minute gift purchasing - The lost bell is the closest.
  • 6d. Assembling Christmas gifts - Not an issue.
  • 6e.  Cooking - Not an issue.
  • 6f.  Attempts to get home for Christmas - The opposite.
  • 6g.  Even a getting and putting up a Christmas tree can lead to disaster - Not an issue.
  • 6h.  Other - Getting to the North Pole.



"What exactly is... is your persuasion on the Big Man, since you brought him up?" ~ The Hobo.
"Well, I... I want to believe... but..." ~ The Boy.
"But you don't want to be bamboozled. You don't want to be led down the primrose path! You don't want to be conned or duped. Have the wool pulled over your eyes. Hoodwinked! You don't want to be taken for a ride. Railroaded!" ~ The Hobo.
  • 7a.  Nativity/Little religion - None.
  • 7b.  Accept non-Christians into the celebration - None.
  • 7c.  An annoying overly religious person - None.
  • 7d.  Angels - None.



"At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe." ~ The Boy.

At least one of the following will happen:
  • 8a. Snow - Everywhere.
  • 8b. Grump-No-More - The know-all, not so much a grump, but less pushy.
  • 8c. Santa is Real - Classic "it's a dream, no wait" subversion, with a dash of "Santa is only real for those who believe."
  • 8d. The Unexpected Extra Guest - No.
  • 8e. Wisdom From an Unexpected Source - A little from many characters.
  • 8f. The Single Will Find Love - N/A.



"Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see." ~ The Conductor.

Will have a sickly sweet ending with a "The True Meaning of Christmas" message - especially:
  • 9a.  Family is the most important thing - No.
  • 9b.  Miracles are real - No, but Santa is.
  • 9c.  It's the thought that counts - Mentioned, but not the message.
  • 9d.  Other - Santa is real if you believe.

RULE #10


"It says "lead", like a lead balloon." ~ The Girl.
"I believe that also spells "lead", as in leading others." ~ The Conductor.
  • 10a.  No sequels - No sequel.
  • 10b.  May be a sequel - Not part of a series.
  • 10c.  Remake - Not a remake.
  • 10d.  Adaptation - Based on a book.

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