Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director/Writer:Britt Allcroft
Destination Films; G; 89 minutes
Cast:Alec Baldwin, Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson

Thomas and the Magic Railroad will be familiar to anyone who has seen PBS series Shining Time Station, a children's show that combines live actors and lively little trains. The full-length film follows a similar vein, with Alec Baldwin playing the part of Mr. Conductor. Just like in the TV show, the trains sport emotive eyes but speak without moving their lips, which imparts a creepy telepathic effect to the proceedings.

Thomas and the Magic Railroad moves very, very slowly until the finale, which moves very, very quickly. The plot, which is incomprehensible until it is finally explained nearly three-quarters into the film, centers around missing magic gold dust and an abandoned engine, both of which need to be recovered to keep the railroad magical and restore Mr. Conductor's failing ability to move between the magic train land and the real world. The young target audience may likely be perplexed by the storyline. Most adults too. While bewildering and not particularly good, the movie's main fault is that the half-hour PBS version is of a more appropriate length, and free to boot.

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