The Polar Express

Movie review by Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Polar Express Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 6+

Book-based treat is full of adventure and positive messages.

G 2004 92 minutes

Parents say

age 6+

Based on 73 reviews

Kids say

age 5+

Based on 95 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 10+

Really Good Except for Santa Questioning

OK, this is a tricky one. The whole point of the movie is that the main boy questions whether or not Santa exists. And the movie sets out to prove that he does (sort of). But, to my mind, as a parent of kids who still believe, this sets off too many light bulbs. I didn't know there would be SOOO MUCH Santa questioning in it. Plus another boy explains obliquely that Christmas has 'never worked out' for him. The clear inference is, he's a poor kid with parents who couldn't afford to buy him presents. So he never got any from Santa. Then at the end, they more or less say, obliquely, that Santa doesn't exist. Meaning, they say that over time, as people grow up, they pretty much everyone doesn't believe in Santa any more (except the narrator who still does). So, if you want your smart/clever 7 to 9 year old questioning whether Santa exists just before Christmas then this is the movie for you!!! :) On the other hand, for families whose kids know the truth about Santa, this is a first rate movie! It was my first time seeing it. Except for being constantly uncomfortable during the Santa questioning scenes and trying to distract my kids by doing goofy things when those discussions took place, it was a terrific movie. Being a 2004 movie, there is a whole 'uncanny valley' thing happening. The animation is so good it kinda looks real, but then again it doesn't. The conductor looks just like Tom Hanks. But the blank stares in the kids eyes was creepy. They've seemingly sovled that in more modern movies but was still a problem back then. I hope this movie gets an update one day to fix that. So, all that aside, if you can handle the uncanny valley and the constant questioning of the existance of Santa, then this is a first rate, classic Xmas movie that I think most people would enjoy.
5 people found this helpful.
age 6+

Too intense

Watched this with my 4 year old twins and they wanted me to turn it off because it was too scary. The conductor yelling, the 'ghost' on the roof, the eerie feeling were just too much. Personally I didn't like the idea of the little boys going on the train with a strange man. Not the kind of message I want my kids to follow. I watched the rest of the movie it has some fun elements, but many intense scenes, so I would not consider it suitable for small or sensitive children.
1 person found this helpful.

Movie Details

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