Day 12 of our 12 Days of Christmas

“If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen, and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow… It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling.”

– Bill Murray in SCROOGED

That’s right – it’s time to feel the moment and that holiday spirit thing. It’s time for Spoiler Free Review’s 12 days of Christmas 2022 edition! We will be posting our favorite holiday experiences with 12 reviews and illustrations of movies, TV, and music. So sit back, enjoy some spiked eggnog, and enjoy to SFR’s 12-days of Christmas 2022! 🎅

I wouldn’t argue if you told me THE POLAR EXPRESS isn’t a good movie. But there are a few things about the film that I love. As many of my fellow contributors know, I don’t always need an incredibly strong story to enjoy a movie, and that’s where THE POLAR EXPRESS leans in on mood, characters, emotion, and just enough Christmas Spirit to be considered a classic. 

While I don’t remember the first time I watched the movie or read the book, it reminds me of spending Christmas and New Year’s in the early 2000s at my Nani and Nana’s house in Colorado. The nostalgia flooded back when I rewatched the film in preparation for this review. THE POLAR EXPRESS either captured or influenced my perception of the holiday. The setting and warm, yet melancholy, tone take me back to being excited by the prospect of snow during the holidays, and Boulder often satisfying this craving. 

The film’s plot is admittedly a bit weak, even considering the picture book source material. Some goofy plot points and slapstick comedy feel out of place, probably to ensure the movie was long enough. But I love the characters, especially the kids on board the train. It’d be easy to dismiss Tom Hank’s conductor and the denizens of The North Pole as figments of our hero’s imagination, but I love that THE POLAR EXPRESS is a shared fantasy. 

Although THE POLAR EXPRESS set a record for being the first entirely motion-captured movie, watching it in 2022 feels like an extended video game cutscene. That said, there is some truly beautiful cinematography, with sweeping scenes of snow-capped mountains, ice-covered expanses, and a zany but surprisingly not over-the-top North Pole.

More than anything, I’ll have a soft spot for THE POLAR EXPRESS because the story’s message always gets me; the belief and memories of things make them real. Combined with the subtle surrealness, has me on board this train.

THE POLAR EXPRESS is streaming on HBO Max.  

Tarush Mohanti

Tarush Mohant is a playlist curator and music explorer, the creator of illussongs (illustrations of songs), and has a fitness plan motivated by action movies (running, climbing, swimming, hiking).

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