Incredibles vs. The Polar express

After taking my son to see The Incredibles and The Polar Express, I could not help thinking about how far apart the two movies are and how neatly they fit into the current Red/Blue, Urban/Non-Urban American divide. I am sure others have thought of this. The Incredibles is all about being who we are and coming to terms with our idiosyncrasies, what makes us unique and "super". The Polar Express is all about faith. Whereas the super-heroes and the villain in The Incredibles must struggle to improve how they fit in the World, the solution to getting what we want in the Polar Express is simply to believe in miracles.

The Polar express leaves us with an overwhelming sensation of keeping all things intact, as they have always been. The poor kid stays on the other side of the tracks, the train picks up and drops every kid in their specific houses, even the layout of the North Pole city implies this unavoidable, deterministic reality. Let's not change paths, just be faithful and things, material goodies, that is, will come your way...

The reality in The Incredibles, on the oher hand, is messy. People have capacities that make them unique, but they need to learn how to use them in an unpredictable World. No perfect recipe for bliss. Super-hero dads get bellies and super-hero mons get fat butts; kids get hang-ups.

Technically I enjoyed both movies. My son loved both to the fullest. But my fragile little mind has been hopelessly warped, so the rapture of presents delivered by the Polar Express did not move me at all, whereas the comic thrill of reality in work, love, and family of The Incredibles was just the Zen that I needed.

I don't need to say which one is Red and which one is Blue, do I? Don't get fooled by the uniforms.

I am so happy to read that somebody else picked up on some of these messages in Polar Express. I admit that I enjoyed the movie, but I thought that it was very classist in its portrayal of the boy from "the other side of the tracks" and the engineer. I also thought that the little girl probably grew up to be Condi Rice. :-(

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