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THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD

SYNOPSIS:
The Island of Sodor is an enchanting place of talking trains, and Thomas the Tank Engine is Ďa really usefulí train at Shining Time Station. Twelve year-old Lily (Mara Wilson) is passing through to stay with her lonely Grandpa (Peter Fonda) in his mountain hideaway, where he keeps Lady, a beautiful long-lost engine that holds the key to Sodorís secret magic railways. Back at Shining Time, Mr Conductor (Alec Baldwin) is losing his magic sparkle, so he enlists the help of his surfer-dude cousin, Junior (Michael E Rodgers). Can Junior help Mr Conductor find his magic sparkle? And can Thomas avoid the nasty Diesel 10, unlock the mystery of the secret railway, and help free Lady? Will Thomas prove that Ďeven little engines can do big things?í

"Hi, Iím Adam and Iím three years old. Iím a huge Thomas fan, so when Daddy took me to see this movie, I was very excited. Now Daddy's asked me to tell you what I thought about it. Well, it was magical! There were trains and magic and pretty colours. I especially liked the bit... oh, Daddy said not to say that because it will give away the story. OK, well, the best bits were the ones with Thomas and the other engines from the TV show. I thought Mr Conductor was very funny. Daddy says heís an actor called Alec Baldwin whoís been in a lot of grown-up films. Since I donít get to stay up late, I donít watch those grown-up movies. Barrett Stone wasnít really funny at all - pretty serious actually. Maybe thatís because heís an actor called Peter Fonda. Daddy says he liked to ride motorcycles when he was younger, but now he's a granddad. Thatís OK Ďcause we gotta have granddads; but I just wish he was a bit more happy. Thereís lots of great stuff in this movie for kids. My sister, whoís five and doesnít really watch Thomas on TV, liked it too. I think she... um, related to (thanks Daddy) Lily. So both boys and girls can have fun at this movie. My Daddy says that thereís no point him saying very much about this movie, because itís not for him - even though heís allowed to stay up late. I liked this movie so much, I didnít have to go to the toilet even once while it was on. For kids like me, itís a definite flavoura... oops, favourable!"
Adam (with help from David) Edwards

"Before discussing this happy little childrenís tale, letís make a very adult point. Newly married couples planning to start a family should see Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Not because itís a great movie (more later), but because itís great contraception. Why? Because you know that if you were to have a family, youíd soon be experiencing a theatre crammed full of 400 kids high on sugar. Trust me, itís enough to put you off having a family for quite some time. As for the movie itself, it is pleasant but confusing. It is intentionally made for Thomas lovers (i.e. kids under 5), so no hidden adult themes or jokes here (a la Toy Story / The Iron Giant / Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Writer/director Britt Allcroft (who first brought Thomas to television) makes a wise choice in combining model animation, live action, and digital effects, yet she also makes the mistake of introducing strange new main characters, like the slightly scary Diesel 10, his dim-witted goons Splatter and Dodge, and the sassy red engine, Lady. If I was a Thomas fan, I would have expected a movie full of my familiar favourites. There is even live characters (Hollywood stars, no less) and funny "magic gold-dust" that holds all of Sodorís secrets. I sometimes thought this gold-dust theme was a big metaphor for the healing powers of marijuana, especially given that Peter Fonda stars as the jaded old-timer. The story is disjointed, wacky, and hard to follow. Three main plots run almost separate of each other, and only Thomas faintly pulls the storylines together. Itís all way above kiddie level, but they lapped it up none-the-less. If I had been on drugs, I would have laughed hysterically at those silly trains, with only their googly eyes giving them expression."
Shannon J. Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD (G)
(US)

VOICES OF: Alec Baldwin, Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Michael E Rodgers

DIRECTOR: Britt Allcroft

PRODUCER: Britt Allcroft and Phil Fehrle

SCRIPT: Britt Allcroft

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Ryan

EDITOR: Ron Wisman

MUSIC: Hummie Mann

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Oleg M. Savytski

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: ABC Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 14, 2000







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