Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery Movie Poster Image

Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery

Uppity engine learns humility and makes a friend.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 60 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Thomas learns hard lessons about both jealousy and leadership during his adventure. Teasing and tricking starts out harmless but escalates to cause real damage, and Thomas is publicly shamed by his friends. His sincere efforts to fix his mistake, as well as his evident remorse, restore his good standing and self-esteem.

Positive role models
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

Thomas nearly plunges from a suspension bridge, is cast into a dark mining shaft, and then almost sinks.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Thomas the Tank Engine has plentiful tie-ins to books, toys, clothes, and other related merchandise.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there are moments of real physical peril for the flawed hero that may worry his preschool-aged fans: Thomas nearly plunges from a suspension bridge, is cast into a dark mining shaft, and then almost sinks. Virtually every animated train, plane, truck, and barge in the Thomas & Friends pantheon has at least a small role in the movie, including the few female characters.

What's the story?

In this straight-to-DVD story, Thomas the Tank Engine goes from hero to zero and back to hero again. Thomas is hailed for his discovery of the long-lost village of Waterton; in thanks for his discovery, he is assigned the important job of overseeing its restoration. Thomas, whose goal in life is to feel useful, lets the power of his new role go to his head and becomes jealous of a new arrival, Stanley, who is sent to help out. A few backfiring tricks later, Stanley is in charge, and Thomas is an outcast who must work to regain the trust and affection of friends like Percy, Gordon, and Sir Topham Hatt.

Is it any good?


The movie works on multiple levels. For youngest viewers, the colorful sights and individual personalities of each train car and vehicle are visually stimulating, and a peppy sing-along soundtrack keeps the fairly slow story from lagging too much. Pierce Brosnan, replacing Ringo Starr as storyteller, uses an array of accents and voices that enhance the story.

There are moments of anguish portrayed by Thomas that all children may find familiar: the fear and jealousy of new classmates and playmates, and the need to figure out whether and where they fit in with friends. The movie touches on subjects that are well worth discussing even with young children: how can we treat new friends? What is forgiveness -- and how can you earn it, and give it? Thomas sometimes makes mistakes, but he does his best to fix them, making him a great role model for children.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Thomas' feelings of being left out when Stanley arrives on the scene. Have you ever felt that way when a new student or playmate arrived at your school or daycare? 

  • How could Thomas have handled his worries differently?

  • Thomas and his friends love to feel useful more than anything else -- just like the preschoolers who make up his fan base. Are there simple household chores that kids could take over, to achieve that same sense of usefulness?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 8, 2008
DVD/Streaming release date:September 8, 2008
Cast:George Carlin, Pierce Brosnan, Ringo Starr
Director:Steve Asquath
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:60 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Adult Written bymichaelgolten80 November 24, 2015

Scary Scenes

In the movie, I was watching it with my son and he got scared of the blacked out tunnels that he had nightmares about being a train and going through dark tunnels! We had to not let him watch Thomas anymore as it would spark back his bad memories of the film.
Parent Written byVanessasgram June 26, 2011

Thomas uses our imagination and teaches without preaching !

My granddaughter has known since age 3 or younger that engines can't really talk but IMAGINATION is fun and important! Thomas teaches behavior and manners without children knowing they're being taught! Yes sometimes the engines are rude but then they learn to behave and be nicer to each other. Imagination is very important to growth and intellect. Einstein said that "Imagination is more important than knowledge" and that is so true--there would be no inventions or new ideas without imagination. A world without "wonder" at things is a dead world. Thomas is all positives and no negatives. It will teach and delight children and give parents talking points to use.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of an infant and 4 year old Written byrevolords July 26, 2009

Thomas is every preschool boy's dream

My son LOVES Thomas. We actually think Thomas and his friends are pretty rude to each other but they seem to make up by the end of each episode.