The first movie at the Orpheum this December is another perfect Christmas movie, "The Polar Express." The movie centers around a young boy who strives to find answers about Santa and the North Pole. The method of transportation to the North Pole is a magical train known as the Polar Express. Although this film is a computer generated animated film, it lists as its stars Tom Hanks in multiple roles, Michael Jetter and Peter Scolari. These actors not only lend their voices to a lot of the characters, they also lend their facial features. The new CG (computer generated) images look a lot like the actors who are adding their voices to the roles. It is difficult for me to look past these images, which are quite life like, and let myself fall into the movie. Usually I can do that, but this film was my first introduction to this technique. I suppose most younger viewers are use to this kind of movie making. I grew up with Disney animation, so it is sometimes difficult to make the transition to contemporary film making. But enough of my short comings, back to the film. Once I "fell" into the movie it proved to be a sweet and tender story of a young innocent boy, full of childlike wonder and excitement, and the joy of the Christmas season that he learns to love.
Like so many films, this is a journey of self-discovery. The clue to this interpretation is simply that it takes place on a train, a mode of transportation common in journey stories. The young boy grows to discover truths about himself rather than an answer to some mystical question that sends him on his journey.
The film is based on a much loved and wonderfully illustrated book. The film added music and dance, plus some "action" scenes, to the story, which only make it more interesting and exciting. All in all, the young hero grows to appreciate this special time. As Tom Hanks tells the young boy, "The true meaning of Christmas is in your heart." I can't really recommend a particular age bracket for his film. It is a little long (100 minutes) for younger viewers but most 8-12 years olds will be interested. Young viewers might get a little antsy. The film is rated PG because of some of the action scenes.
The show times are 7 p.m. on Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit the theatre for tours and check out all of the Iowa related memorabilia. Check the Jean Seberg display on the first floor and the Donna Reed exhibit on the second floor. Call the Orpheum Theater Center movie hotline at 641-844-5907 or visit www.orpheumcenter.com
Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher. LaVille's Critic's Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican