'Polar Express' author says the film is like seeing 'a painting come to life'
When Tom Hanks pitched a screen version of Chris Van Allsburg's beloved picture book, "The Polar Express," the author-illustrator drew a friendly line in the sand.
Van Allsburg wanted no razzle-dazzle Hollywood villains, no burp-and-fart jokes, none of what he calls the "oceans of irony and cheesy pop culture that seem to be de rigueur for children's films these days."
Hanks, who conceived the film after reading the modern classic to his own kids, readily agreed. As Van Allsburg tells it, the film star said, "I have no intention to use a book's name and popularity to tell a different story."
That was a huge relief to Van Allsburg, still smarting from the 1995 film version of his picture book "Jumanji," which, in 1982, had won both a National Book Award and the Caldecott Medal. Van Allsburg, an early screenwriter on the Robin Williams vehicle, said the final product veered sharply from his original vision of the story.