Why The Polar Express is Bad and We All Pretend to Like It


Sam Felt, Contributor

Every year, as we approach the holidays, many families come together to watch all the ‘classics.’ For many, this includes The Grinch, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and unfortunately, The Polar Express

Hear me out, because I am not trashing on this movie for an unjustifiable reason. There are so many plot points and things in the movie that just don’t make sense or contribute to the fact that it is bad. 

 The plot of the movie is essentially children being abducted from their homes in the middle of the night. How do the parents or siblings not hear this? There is a huge passenger train appearing in their yard! Then these children almost die multiple times through reckless endangerment at the hands of the crew on the train, all just to witness Santa and a bunch of elves throw hats. There’s a ghost in there somewhere too? What?

My first genuine issue is how many problems the main character causes, ultimately becoming the antagonist of his own movie, aside from that blonde kid with the glasses (I’ll get to him later because he deserves his own paragraph). First of all, he doesn’t even have a name. If you look it up, he goes by ‘Hero Boy’ which doesn’t even make sense because he does not do a single heroic act in the whole movie. 

In the first five minutes, he rips a hole in his robe pocket, ultimately causing half the conflict in the rest of the movie. For example, his ticket falls out, and the bell that Santa literally gave him. How do you not feel a hole in your pocket and lose things like that TWICE? 

This same character also stops the train, which is already running late, to pick up the only named character (Billy) who they already stopped for, but who initially refused to go. Billy then goes on to contribute absolutely nothing to the plot besides showing people to be nice to each other. 

Overall, Hero Boy causes every single one of his problems and then depends on others to fix them, which should not be an example for children.


Secondly, the immediate headache caused by the ‘Know-It-All’ should be enough to shut the movie off entirely. This character is also ABSOLUTELY unnecessary. I’m actually convinced that this movie would be tolerable if it weren’t for this character. His only purpose is to be an annoyance- he contributes nothing to the plot in the slightest. 

Also, out of nowhere, there’s just a ghost chilling on the top of the train. In no way is this tied to the ultimate plot of the movie. How is a ghost related to Christmas? This is an example of how our  Hero Boy needs his problems solved by others. He just HAD to go on the top of the train and he would have died if it weren’t for this random ghost character. 

The movie is bad enough without bringing up the horrifying animation. Everything is just so strangely smooth. For a film that came out in 2004, they could have done 100% better. But no, we are left with this uncomfortably animated movie about child abduction and reckless endangerment on a large scale.

Overall, I give The Polar Express a 2/10, solely for the fact that Tom Hanks absolutely carries as the Conductor. However, I would definitely recommend watching some of the classic Claymation Christmas movies this holiday season, those never disappoint.