Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery

Movie review by
Nancy Davis Kho, Common Sense Media
Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Uppity engine learns humility and makes a friend.
  • NR
  • 2008
  • 60 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations
Violence & Scariness

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

Sexy Stuff

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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 tunne... Continue reading
Adult Written bydevontay1817 May 9, 2020

Thomas & Friends is THE BEST!

Teen, 14 years old Written byNonsensical_Reviews January 10, 2021

Thomas' third feature is age-appropriate.

The Great Discovery is a 2008 TTTE special/movie directed by Steve Asquith and starring Pierce Brosnan.

Language: One very mild insult.

Sex: None.

Drinking,... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 30, 2020


I love the Thomas You're the Leader song in this, as well the story. Stanley is very likeable, though this is meh for preschoolers thanks to the scene wher... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

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