Story

The Island of Sodor is preparing for the celebration of the Sodor Day Holiday. We see Thomas and James engaged in a race to the wharves, which Thomas wins. As a reward, Thomas is given the special job of going into the hills to collect timber with Duncan. Duncan decides to play a trick on Thomas by telling him that an old disused line will get him back to the wharves more quickly. Thomas follows Duncan’s directions and finds a deserted overgrown town. Thomas takes the Fat Controller to the abandoned town, and the Fat Controller tells Thomas that it is the long lost town of Great Waterton, which used to supply all of Sodor’s steam trains with water. The Fat Controller decides that the restoration of Great Waterton would be a perfect way to celebrate Sodor Day, and Thomas is placed in charge of the trains working on the restoration.

While Thomas is busy rebuilding Great Waterton, a shiny new tank engine named Stanley arrives on the Island of Sodor. Stanley is just a little bit bigger than Thomas, and takes over all of Thomas’s regular duties. When Thomas sees that all the other engines like Stanley, who is a happy-go-lucky engine and does his job well, Thomas feels threatened and jealous. When his plot to show Stanley up in front of the other engines goes badly wrong, Thomas is forced to work even harder to have everything ready for the Sodor Day celebrations.

Themes

Friendships; jealousy; forgiveness

Violence

None of concern

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

The Great Discovery contains a few scenes depicting physical peril that may disturb some preschool viewers. For example:

  • Thomas is tricked into travelling across an old dilapidated suspension bridge that sways, makes cracking sounds and crumbles as Thomas travels across it. While Thomas is in the middle of the bridge, it collapses. It falls into the ravine below and Thomas just manages to make it back to safety.
  • When Thomas tries to outdo Stanley, he takes a bend in the track too fast and rolls off the track. Thomas is uninjured.
  • While trying to retrieve a truck, Thomas races out of control down a mining shaft as if on a wild roller coaster ride. He crashes through a wall and lands on a wooden platform that then goes floating down an underground river. Thomas picks up speed, going faster and faster, until he crashes through a wall and flies over a ravine. He becomes stuck in the mud on the other side.
  • Stanley bursts a valve while trying to help Thomas.

From 5-8

Nothing of concern

From 8-13

Nothing of concern

Over 13

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

Almost the entire Thomas the Tank Engine range of toys are depicted in this movie.

Coarse language

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

Thomas and Friends: The Great Discovery is an animated children’s movie that uses model trains and vehicles to represent real-life personalities and situations. The movie targets preschool-aged children, and the narration makes it easy for younger children to relate to both the story and its characters. The movie runs for 60 minutes, which some preschoolers and younger children may find a little too long to maintain their interest.

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • Friendship is important.
  • Working cooperatively with others is better than trying to be the best and being jealous of others.
  • It is important to feel useful.

Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with your children include:

  • working cooperatively
  • making amends.

This movie could also give you the chance to discuss with your children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Thomas feeling excluded and jealous when Stanley arrives on the island. You could talk about times when your child/children felt left out or threatened by someone. Could Thomas have reacted to Stanley’s arrival differently so that he wouldn’t have felt excluded or jealous?
  • how Thomas thought about his mistakes and how he attempted to fix them.