"Would the owner of the silver Toyota Avalon license plate H26 VFB, please report to the manager's office, you are parked in Larry H's assigned parking spot and you are in big trouble, Mister!" You people are taking your life in your own hands; please do not make me come over there.
When I walked into Loew's at the Fountains Theatre #17, there were only a few minutes until show time. This theatre is one of the big ones; seats about 600. After I sat down, there were 599 vacant seats. Then several minutes of privacy passed while I watched the previews of even more animations, two moms and two tots arrive with some fanfare and lots of chatter. Both the kids were wearing caps and I could not see their bodies on the other side of the theatre but I could see those caps bouncing up and down as they climbed the stairs. Please, Lord, this is a giant theatre; please don't let them sit by me. And I'll be dat gum if the whole crew didn't waddle up to within 15 feet of me and sit down in the middle of the row in front of me.
This movie is based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg about a young boy who doubts the authenticity of Santa Claus and all that around the world gift-giving in one night sleigh ride kind of thing. The movie begins on Christmas Eve as the boy is trying to go to sleep and before you can say "Ray Charles" the boy is out his front door in his pajamas and robe boarding a train that will take him to the North Pole and the home of Mr. Claus. There are other kids on the train and the loveable no-nonsense conductor is a computer image of Tom Hanks. The train ride on the Polar Express is exciting and fun, but Director Bob Zemeckis gets bogged down in detail and showy special effects upon arrival to the hometown of Santa Claus and the movie suffers.
However, the movie has taken "animation" to another level; the hair on the little boy was phenomenal as well as the body movements of the characters guided by special suits that react to lasers, computers etc. The music and sound were outstanding. The main character reminded me of my brother, Vernon H., when he was about 10. At times during the movie I felt the spirits of "The Wizard of Oz," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
This is a good movie for kids if they are not taller than a movie theatre chair. Those two kids talked nonstop; here is a sample of their queries: "Mom, where is that train going; is he gonna die; why is it dark in that tunnel; is that really Santa Clause; what's in that present, is he gonna make it home?" Sitting by those little freaks was one of the highlights of the movie. I found myself trying to listen closely to their comments so I would better understand what Zemeckis was trying to accomplish.
Tom Hanks was one of the Executive Producers so I hope the movie is very successful because I know he and Rita could use some extra cash around Christmastime. Hanks recruited the old gang: Zemeckis from "Forrest Gump" and "Cast Away"; Peter Scolari his "Bosom Buddies"; Michael Jeter who played Eduard "Mouse" Delacroix in the "The Green Mile" and Steven Tyler from who the heck knows; maybe Hanks and Tyler sat around the movie set and talked about the bad 'ole days of the 70's. I want to be Tom Hanks' friend. Rock 'n Roll.