Train Master

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Train Master Movie Poster Image
Runaway train story boring, but has some positive messages.
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Sometimes it is necessary to put aside past differences and work together to solve pressing problems. Clear messages about the benefits of respecting others and building friendships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jeremiah is a grandfather who loves his family and loves spending time with his grandkids as he shares with them his love for both model trains and real trains. 

Violence & Scariness

The scenes of children trapped on a runaway train may be a bit much for younger viewers. There are also some instances of verbal bullying, as a new kid in school taunts others for playing with toy trains and dinosaurs. 

Sexy Stuff
Language

In a mealtime argument, one sibling calls the other a "fruit." Characters call each other "morons," "rednecks" and variations of "old-timer" throughout. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In an early scene, a character brings a bottle of champagne and two glasses into an office. The bottle is opened but no one drinks. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this slow-paced runaway train story shows taunting and nonviolent bullying between kids, though the main characters eventually learn to get along. The scenes of children trapped on a runaway train might be too much to handle for younger viewers. 

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What's the story?

Jeremiah Wilson loves working for the Willamette Western Railroad as much as he loves playing with model trains with his grandchildren. All this changes when Brett Banner, the heir to the New York Eastern railroad, buys out the WWR and unceremoniously fires Jeremiah. But when Brett's bratty son Daniel ends up on a runaway train with Jeremiah's grandkids, everyone must figure out a way to work together and stop the train before it is too late.

Is it any good?

While you might think it would be difficult to take something as exciting as a runaway train story and make it plodding and boring, TRAIN MASTER manages that nearly miraculous feat. The acting is uniformly excruciating, and for kids and families eager to see the action of a train out of control, that doesn't happen until nearly the first hour of the film has passed. 

The first half of the film is so bogged down with attempting to "get to know" the characters, by the time you get to what's at stake with them with their work, their lives, and -- yes -- the runaway train, it's difficult to care about whether or not the train will slam straight into a nuclear power plant, thus taking the lives of the children, and, presumably the entire Pacific Northwest. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the kids respond to being on a runaway train. What would be the real consequences of this situation? How do you think you would react if you were stuck on a train like this? 

  • How accurately does this film portray the struggles people go through after losing their jobs? Do you have family members or friends who have lost their jobs and struggling to get by?

  • How are new kids treated when they first come to your school, and how do they respond to being in a new school? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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