Before I review it, what matters most are my kids'' reaction to it: they LOVE this movie! Other than Hero of the Rails, this is the only other Thomas movie they''ve ever requested again and again, back-to-back. My sons are (currently) 2.5 and 5, and not one part of this movie...
Before I review it, what matters most are my kids'' reaction to it: they LOVE this movie! Other than Hero of the Rails, this is the only other Thomas movie they''ve ever requested again and again, back-to-back. My sons are (currently) 2.5 and 5, and not one part of this movie has ever scared them. And as for the music? Well, it''s the first true "musical" Thomas movie: Six different songs, with the first and last based upon one another in order to start and finish the story arch. My kids can now sing all six songs by heart, in the car, in the bath, at daycare, at the dinner table. And if it wasn''t enjoyable enough, it''s PERCY who delivers the funniest, grown-up humored joke in the entire movie!
There are two significant, questionable (adult-upsetting) plot choices made by the production company in terms of how the story unravels. 1) Thomas outright STEALS a job from James, and as a result, Sir Toppemhat is complacent, and James is stuck unfairly pulling Thomas'' branch line in his place. Thomas is never truly punished, scolded, or even given a talking to for his selfish actions. 2) Two trains working in what can only be referred to "train hell" - a molten steelworks factory - lure other unsuspecting trains into the factory and essentially entrap them because they, themselves, are overworked in their highly-dangerous professions and would rather be doing nothing except telling their "captives" what to do. Ultimately, they become friends with Thomas and the other new friends Thomas has made along his journey on the mainland... essentially rewarding the former captors for their misdeeds.
It''s not a perfect story. Again, I''ve highlighted larger, adult-noticeable flaws. Otherwise, the movie itself is actually quite enjoyable as an adult to watch! The pacing is very good for keeping my kids attention; the songs are far from Grammy- or Oscar-worthy, but plenty fun enough for my sons to have memorized. I believe "catchy" is the correct word. I feel like modern toddler TV shows have moved towards the "act poorly and be rewarded" model - look at great shows like Curious George and Caiou (well, Caiou maybe not so great) as perfect examples.
And, perhaps most importantly, my kids didn''t see the two plot issues I''ve had, but instead gleaned the positive messages: Even if you don''t think you can do anything right, you should still always try; Friendship is more important than selfish pride.
So, after all this... I do so badly want to give it only 4 stars, but cannot! Because it''s not really about what I think in this case, but what my sons think. And to them? This is perhaps the BEST movie yet. Musical Thomas movies are hopefully the way of the future! Combine the musical idea with better stories (like Hero of the Rails or The Great Race) and they''d have a superb toddler masterpiece.