Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Thomas and the Magic Railroad Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Will please its many fans, but plot might confuse kids.
  • G
  • 2000
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 23 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

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

Positive Messages

With the power of belief, in yourself and those around you, it's possible to accomplish many great things. Themes also include courage and responsibility.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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. The good trains like to be useful and work hard.

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. The bad trains are mean and could be scary for very young/sensitive kids.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a wholesome train movie for the entire family, with messages about the power of believing in yourself and those around you. However, younger and more sensitive viewers might be scared of the mean diesel trains, and there's one scene in which 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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byhgreenuk January 16, 2010

Terrible

This movie is awful. It is so absolutely bad, I can't even begin to describe it. Alec Baldwin is completely miscast. Peter Fonda is terrible. It's jus... Continue reading
Adult Written bycommonsensemothers82 August 11, 2021

this is appaling

i like thomas,but not the thomas i see here he isencouraging edgy stuff and drugs he smokes pot consinstly dissapointing
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmentheman August 19, 2019

Meh

I thought the movie was awesome. I don’t care if people don’t like it. I have a VHS tape. I would’ve give it 5 stars, but it is still good.
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.... Continue reading

What's the story?

THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD follows train and human characters as they find a lost train hidden in Muffle Mountain, uncover magic gold dust somewhere on the magic Island of Sodor, and defeat a mean bully diesel train, all while finding courage, magic, and a sense of responsibility within themselves. Thomas (voiced by Edward Glen) and Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) are faced with lots of challenges. A big diesel train with wicked-looking pinchers is a bully who wants to take over. The only one who can stop him is a train called Lady (Britt Allcroft), who's been missing for many years. Mr. 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 (Michael E. Rodgers) for help, and Junior uses up the last of the dust. Meanwhile, Lily (Mara Wilson) and Patch (Cody McMains) try to help Lily's grandfather (Peter Fonda), 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 Conn and Russell Means appear briefly, but the filmmakers brought in some real Hollywood talent for the main characters to add star quality. Baldwin, Fonda, and Wilson all 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 on television.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of "the three Rs" -- 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

  • How do the characters demonstrate courage? Why is that an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love trains, cars, and trucks

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate