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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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(2004), G [G*]
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
November 9, 2004
91 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2004), G [G*] -- ... finely engineered from a child's perspective.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Castle Rock Entertainment, Playtone, ImageMovers, Golden Mean, Shangri-La Entertainment, Universal CGI, Warner Bros.
Distribution (US): Warner Bros., Castle Rock Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. Director(s): Robert Zemeckis
Producer(s): Steven J. Boyd, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Josh McLaglen, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, William Teitler, Peter M. Tobyansen, Chris Van Allsburg, Robert Zemeckis
Book: Chris Van Allsburg
Screenplay: Robert Zemeckis, William Broyles Jr.
Cinematography/Camera: Don Burgess, Robert Presley
Music: Glen Ballard, Alan Silvestri
Film Editing: R. Orlando Duenas, Jeremiah O'Driscoll
Casting: Victoria Burrows
Production Design: Rick Carter, Doug Chiang
Art Direction: Tony Fanning, Alicia Maccarone, Norman Newberry
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

Tom Hanks is for The Polar Express what Mel Blanc (aka The Man of a Thousand Voices, 1908 - 1989) was to Buggs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin Martian, Speedy Gonzales, Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote, Henry Hark, Yosemite Sam, Barney Rubble, Dino, Cosmo Spacely, Pepe LePew, Twiki, a gremlin car, Ralph Wolf, Sam Sheepdog and a plethora of other animated characters of yesteryear.

The Polar Express is a magnificent Christmas time achievement but Christ was not mentioned. Not even in vain. The Reason for the season was absent. Granted, all movies do not have to be Christian, but Christmas is. If it were not for Christ there would be no Christmas. So much for the claims of The Polar Express presenting a "faith message." The Polar Express indeed presented many positive values and concepts, but faith in Jesus and Salvation through His Sacrifice was not one of them. I am dismayed that so many people are afraid to even mention Jesus.

The Polar Express is a film that takes us back to the years before innocence was consumed by the fires of maturity, back when faith needed no justification or proof. Remember? It is that to which Jesus referred when He spoke of the faith of a child.

No wicked Witch of the North: no wizards, demons or devils; no mean old Grinch slinging darkness or evil in this magnificent child's adventure. And since it is almost entirely about the interaction of the adult Conductor with a dozen or so children, there is something for all ages. A few things were with broad meanings which the experiential maturity of a child would not likely understand but yet finely engineered from a child's perspective.

On a sleepless Christmas Eve night such as we may all recall from our youth possibly more vividly than last night, an unnamed boy (voice of Tom Hanks) who was approaching puberty was having trouble accepting in faith that Santa Claus was real. The boy even tried to convince his sister there was no Santa, telling her Santa would have to fly at the speed of light to make all the stops he is supposed to make every year in one night. He wanted to believe but the intense pressures of getting older were taking their toll.

Trying hard to hear sleigh bells and the prancing and pawing of the hooves of eight tiny reindeer as the twilight of sleep descended on his eyes, the boy was wakened by a thundering locomotive in the front yard! On the side of the train was "Polar Express." Its Conductor (voice of Tom Hanks) announced it was headed for the North Pole and invited the boy to take a ride of faith to the North Pole. The boy accepted the invitation and began his odyssey into faith. Hanks described faith as "Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see." I like that since it closely resembles the description of faith in Jesus as trusting in the Face you cannot see, the Voice you cannot hear and the Hand you cannot hold.

On the train were a bunch of kids who also doubted the reality of Santa Claus. The boy soon made friends with two of them: a young lass (voice of Nona M. Gaye) who doubted her own ability to make decisions and a lad who was the summation of every know-it-all we have every known (voice of Eddie Deezen). With a voice like Steve Urkle, the know-it-all was particularly exasperating and even infuriating.

Here is where one of possibly many strong positive notes may be found in this fantastic tale of fantasy. The other children were not accepting of the know-it-all's "diverse" mannerisms but were patient with him. They each expressed their discontent with the his chosen behaviors but did not abandon him.

Soon the Conductor made another stop for another boy, a lonely boy (voice of Peter Scolari) who, at first, would not get on the train. So the Conductor signaled the engineer to resume the trip. As the lumbering loco began to chug away from the new boy he changed his mind and ran after the train, a-l-m-o-s-t making it to the caboose hand rail. But alas, no grasp was to be found. Not to worry. The first boy we met saw that the new boy had changed his mind and pulled the train's emergency brake so the new boy could get aboard.

After a transparent and even loving scolding by the Conductor (delivered by the vocal talents of Hanks with the growling wisdom of a sage grandfather), the train resumed its journey to the North Pole. The new boy, withdrawn and insecure, obviously more affected by his history than the others were by theirs, isolated himself in an unlit car behind the car with all the other children. It seems strange this car would be unit since all cars were lit in an exterior view of the whole train. The new boy remained mysterious for most of the journey, but I wonder whether there was intent in making the lonely boy look so much like an adolescent George Dubya?

One of the other characters the first boy met on the train was a ominous-looking hobo (voice of Tom Hanks) who sort of evaporated from time to time. There is nothing sinister or evil about him. Indeed, he provides advice born of much experience to the first boy. It is obvious this character is a dreamstate manifestation of the first boy's own father providing guidance as the boy explores making decisions on his own: guidance on his own level of maturity and not magnitudes above it; more as a protector than an authority.

The only matters of probable concern found by the CAP Analysis Model were found by the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area, specifically in violence. This film had a young boy performing quite dangerous and potentially lethal deeds atop the train. Indeed, a bad example to set. Often the train ride was more of an incredible roller coaster. Also was a bad example was young children wandering about their house after all had gone to bed then leaving the house to go with a stranger. [Titus 2:7]

Mischievous deeds were noted. It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.] which also set an unwelcome example which may, in some way, manifest in the behavior mechanics of your children [Prov. 10:23]

And a single masking of a three/four letter word may entice you child to fill-in-the-blank. [Prov. 22:11]

There were a couple other items that may cause you concern but I will leave them to the rather short list in the Findings/Scoring section.

Note that I will not discuss whether Santa Claus is real. The original Santa Claus, first St. Nicholas then Kris Kringle were real people doing real philanthropic deeds.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
  • Prov. 10:23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The heart of the CAP Analysis Model)

    The Polar Epxress (2004) CAP Thermometers

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • adolescent sneaking about the house after all have gone to bed
  • children leaving home with a stranger in the middle of the night
  • masked use of one example of the three/four letter word vocabulary, much the same as in Shrek 2
  • adolescent mischief leading to endagering self and others

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • none noted, not even suggestive images, poses or camera angles

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O)
  • Christmas without the Reason for the season (without Jesus)

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

  • Christian Long Distance



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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