Thomas and the Magic Railroad

  • Review Date: May 18, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Will please its many fans, but plot might confuse kids.
  • Review Date: May 18, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 85 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Lots of trains for train lovers. Shows a difference between diesel and other trains. 

Positive messages

With the power of belief, in yourself and those around you, it is possible to accomplish many great things. 

Positive role models

Grandpa Burnett learns to overcome his sadness to help save the day. Mr. Conductor is unafraid of the mean diesel trains, and is always working to come up with solutions. 

Violence & scariness

A conductor is thrown from a bad diesel train up in the air and many feet away, but he lands safely on sandbags. A good train is nearly pushed into a furnace by a bad train, with an assistant conductor riding on top. 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Inherent tie-in to the TV show Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and the many Thomas products, games, apps, toys, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a wholesome train movie for the entire family. However, younger and more sensitive viewers might be scared of the mean diesel trains, and there is one scene where one of the good trains is nearly pushed into a fiery furnace. But like the other films in the Thomas series, it's clearly intended for younger viewers, especially those who like trains. For parents, this is probably the only time anyone will get to see Peter Fonda and Alec Baldwin working together. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD follows the train and human characters as they find a lost train hidden in Muffle Mountain, uncover some magic gold dust somewhere on the magic island of Sodor, defeat the mean bully diesel train, all while finding courage, magic, and a sense of responsibility within themselves. Thomas and the Conductor are faced with a lot of challenges. The big diesel train with the wicked looking pinchers is a bully who wants to take over. The only one who can stop him is a train called Lady, who has been missing for many years. The Conductor is running out of the special gold dust that enables him to go back and forth between Shining Time Station and the Island of Sodor. He goes to his surfboard-loving cousin Junior for help, and Junior uses up the last of the dust. Meanwhile, Lily and Patch try to help Lily's grandfather, who has a secret that just might help.

Is it any good?


The beloved PBS series about the little blue train and his friends moves to the big screen with a story that will please its many fans, though they might find it a little hard to follow. Even adults may scratch their heads at the plot.

Series regulars Didi Cohn and Russell Means appear briefly, but they've brought in some real Hollywood talent for the main characters to add star quality. Alec Baldwin plays the conductor, Peter Fonda is the sad man who is trying to get Lady, the missing train, back in shape, and Mara Wilson portrays his grand-daughter. All three give great, sincere performances that help make the story seem real. And the producers wisely stay away from high-tech special effects so that the trains look just as they do in television.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of "the three R's" -- the conductor and the trains must all be responsible, reliable, and "really useful." Family members can give examples of how each tries to accomplish those goals.

  • How does this Thomas movie compare with others? How odes it compare with the TV show?


  • Families can also talk about the meaning behind "Little engines can do big things," and what makes some people want to act like bullies

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 26, 2000
DVD release date:October 31, 2000
Cast:Alec Baldwin, Didi Conn, Peter Fonda
Director:Britt Allcraft
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Trains
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Thomas and the Magic Railroad was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old February 8, 2014

Doesn't make sense...

Mutt put Lily on the wrong train for no reason, but it says, "But he knew he had done so, for the right reasons."
Teen, 13 years old Written bySomeoneYouDon'tKnow March 13, 2012

Great for all ages

From birth to age 6, Thomas was my all-time favorite kid's series, but after that, I started to mature. I started to find it boring, with very lame acting. But then I was introduced to this movie, and I thought it was a HUGE improvement. I really hate to admit it, but I still watch it. It is the only Thomas movie that, in my opinion, all kids can enjoy. It has a good message and mild violent content that will please older kids. It does, however, have a VERY complicated plot that will have adults desperately trying to figure it all out, even though the young kids won't mind. Adults will, however, find pleasure in the fact that Alec Baldwin and Peter Fonda play the leads, and I love the character Junior. I am also a huge fan of Diesel 10 and his claw, to the extent that in 2nd grade I dressed up as him for Halloween, with a plastic robot claw as pinchy. A very good movie!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Parent of a 2 year old Written bymomboys2 March 24, 2010

My son loves this and I do to

I really like this movie. My son loves Thomas and this is our favorite. Diesel can be a little scary and there is one scene where Percy gets scared in the dark. It did not bother my son who usually scares very easily. I love the people in this movie, I actually remember when Shining Town was on PBS and wish they would rerelease those shows.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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