Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Hero Boy

It’s five minutes to midnight. The train pulls into the street as whips of snow follow behind. Surprisingly, no one other than a little boy awakens to greet the mechanical beast. When confronted by the conductor with an, “All aboard!” the boy doesn’t know what to do. He sees the train as a curiosity. He doesn’t intend to hop aboard for a ride.

Hero Boy
Hero Boy

When the conductor (Tom Hanks) says it is the Polar Express heading to the North Pole, the boy’s willingness to abandon his apprehension escalates. After all, the North Pole is where Santa Claus supposedly lives. He’s at the point where he thinks Santa’s a fake. But it isn’t until the train begins to chug-chug-chug away that the boy calls to take him with them.

The film The Polar Express is the perfect Christmas movie. The cold atmosphere captures the essence of the Holiday season. A view inside the train offers the audience a warm setting featuring a comfy front seat with other kids eager to see Santa’s home.

Filled with adventure, the story carries Hero Boy from his home, somewhere in America, to the desolate tundra at the top of the world. All of it happening while the clock’s big hand rests at five minutes to midnight.

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

For Hero Boy though, aside from being a stranger on the train, he sees things with open eyes—not as how he’d like to see it. Ghosts would frighten other ten-year-olds, but not Hero Boy. To him, ghosts are like regular people. He can talk to them and not feel the need to run away, regardless of what anyone else says.

Halfway through the trip, Hero Boy plays a key role saving the Polar Express from utter destruction. He also attempts to aid one of the other kids less fortunate than he by lending a helping hand.

Hero Boy’s main purpose, however, is to disprove Santa. He hasn’t seen Santa. All he’s seen is a mechanical Santa in the window of a department store dropping presents in a fake loot bag. Then there is the time where he researched that the North Pole is barren and desolate. No way could anyone live there, let alone make all the world’s Christmas presents. Certainly, someone ought to have seen Santa by now.

The purity with Hero Boy’s character lies with his genuine need to find the truth. He does not take the first explanation as the truth. He digs, scours, examines carefully what he finds, then makes a logical decision of whether Santa does or does not exist.

And in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Hero Boy extends his faith to believe. It is only then Santa becomes real to him.

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What are your thoughts about The Polar Express and Hero Boy?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Buddy the Elf

From the North Pole, where Santa prepares for another Christmas, the elves’ manufacturing machine churns out toys 364 days in the year. That fateful day, Christmas Day, the elves receive a few hours of rest as their reward for a year well done. From there, they begin the cycle again, pressing toward another tight deadline, another joyous Christmas with all its splendor intact.

Will Ferrell as Elf
Will Ferrell as Elf

What better way to usher in another Season’s Greetings than to focus attention on Buddy (Will Ferrell), the holiday warrior in the film Elf who sees things differently than the rest of us?

Buddy isn’t a normal Santa little elf. In fact, he isn’t little at all. At the height of well over six feet, he’s got his brothers and sisters beat. His feet are too big for his bed. His appetite is even larger, consuming a vast amount of candy that would choke anyone into an early grave. And his spirit for the season is equal to that of Santa’s.

Buddy is a warrior for Christmas.

Elf's version of the Christmas spirit
Elf’s version of the Christmas spirit

However, one day Buddy realizes he’s not like the other elves. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) tells him he’s not an elf at all. That’s when he sets out to find his true parents across the northern tundra, through the great Canadian Rockies, traveling to New York where he finds clues that lead him to his real father.

Only, his real father, Walter (James Caan), is not who he imagined him to be. As a big publishing executive, Walter’s goal with his book company is to make as much money in the industry, despite if he has to cut a few corners—or throats—to get there. The spirit of Christmas definitely does not live within Walter.

Once Buddy meets his real father, he doesn’t let his dad’s preoccupation with his job get to him. Determination sets in for him to show his dad what a wonderful time of year it is instead. Selfless acts of kindness, like staying up all night to decorate the apartment, comes easy to Buddy. Hauling a tree into the apartment and decking it from from top to bottom with homemade decorations is what Buddy’s good at.

Yet, Walter doesn’t appreciate his son’s passion for the day. He wants nothing to do with his son other than for his son to disappear from his life.

Unaffected by his dad’s rejection, Buddy carries forward to bring back the spirit of the season to shoppers everywhere. His sudden interest with a department store and the endless possibilities he has at his disposal to create a Christmas wonderland excites Buddy to pull another all-nighter. The next morning, the entire children’s department becomes a wonderful destination for parents and kids everywhere.

The story doesn’t end there. Buddy’s unwavering belief in the spirit of Christmas, and its effect on those it comes in contact, to change them, provides him the inspiration to spread cheer toward everyone, including his father.

Buddy is more than a two-dimensional character. Buddy represents someone with absolute faith in the power to move crowds into a call for action. As lighthearted as the film Elf is, the underlying message it delivers, that of tolerance and forgiveness, makes for fun moments of entertainment laced with a few lessons for those in need of a positive role model.

The film is correct in saying Buddy isn’t an elf. He’s more than an elf. He’s a character filled with hope—hope for the future, and hope for a time when the spirit of the season will flow year-round.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What do you think of the film Elf? What do you think of Buddy’s positive attitude?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Hero Girl

She doesn’t have a name. Her costume consists of a nightgown. By the time it’s all over, she sports the moniker “Leader”. I’m proud to include Hero Girl from the movie Polar Express in my Women Who Wow Wednesday series.

Polar Express' Hero Girl
Polar Express’ Hero Girl

During its release, not many people liked the film Polar Express. Ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes confirm the movie’s status as, if at best, average. The production budget for the flick came in at $165 million while the overall take at the box office worldwide netted $308 million. I wouldn’t call it a financial disaster. Far from it, I’d call it an opportunity movie where it’s best to watch with the lights turned low a few days before Christmas.

Since its release in 2004, this film has become a staple viewing tradition for our family every evening of December 23rd.

Why do we like it so much? For us, the song Believe by Josh Groban says it all:

Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that’s playing
There’s no time to waste
There’s so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe

That’s where Hero Girl comes in. We don’t know her name and throughout the movie she second-guesses every decision she makes. In some respect, she wouldn’t qualify as a hero at all. But her faith in what she doesn’t see is what pulls everyone together to work as a team, lending credence to her belief in something altogether greater than anyone or anything they know as real.

Leading the others
Leading the others

Hero Girl also provides the direction the group needs to continue on their way to the North Pole. Not an easy task for a young child, let alone a girl who doubts everything she says. Her strength, however, lies in her ability to lead those willing to follow her to their true destination. This involves trust on the part of her friends, and an eternal hope that she will lead them to their true destination.

Once Hero Girl affirms her leadership status, not in name but in action, the group of kids follows this time without dismissing her ideas. She leads them to where all the magic begins.

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Have you seen Polar Express? What did you think of Hero Girl’s role in the film?