Thomas and the Magic Railroad

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

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

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 & 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. 

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

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. 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. 

Wondering if Thomas and the Magic Railroad is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

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


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 byTheNinthReviewer April 30, 2020

Magical, Frightening Mystery

The magic possessed by the railroad is of false origins. Conductor owns the dust which is then used by a living train with the face of a human for its own perso... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmentheman August 19, 2019


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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love trains, cars, and trucks

Our editors recommend

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