Director(s): Greg Tiernan
Cast: David Bedella, Martin Sherman, Michael Brandon
Genre: Family and Kids
Run Time: 61 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Common Sense Says: Sleuthing story has worthy messages for preschoolers.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thomas & Friends: Blue Mountain Mystery: The Movie features one of the most recognizable preschool TV characters, whose image can be found on products ranging from snack items to apps. In addition to those products that already exist from the popular TV show and a collection of movies, this feature-length DVD boasts its own supporting cast of toys, books, and apparel. Happily, though, the commercial quotient is the only iffy thing about this tot-friendly story that shows kids the rewards of determination, friendliness, and teamwork. The movie also demonstrates the correlation between honesty and forgiveness and shows characters seeking out new relationships with others.
- Families can talk about friendship. How do you feel when you meet someone new? How do you decide whether that person will be your friend? What common interests or shared qualities do you like to find in new friends?
- Kids: How does Luke let go of the guilt he's carried with him for so long? In what ways does Thomas help him do so? How do you think it feels when he finally admits what's been weighing on his mind?
- Why is it important to tell someone when you've done something wrong? What fears keep you from doing so? How do you feel when you tell the truth about something difficult?
- Kids: Does watching Thomas on TV make you want to buy Thomas and Friends toys? Why do you think that is? Why do so many kids' TV shows have associated toys?
What's the story?
In THOMAS & FRIENDS: BLUE MOUNTAIN MYSTERY, an accident at the Blue Mountain Quarry leaves the staff short-handed, so Thomas (voiced by Martin T. Sherman) is sent to help out. While he's there, he catches sight of a small green engine doing his best to hide from the others. When his attempts to befriend the other engine fail, Thomas sets out to solve the mystery of the engine's identity and his fear of companionship, but his sleuthing leads to some surprising twists and turns before he uncovers the whole truth.
Is it any good?
Thomas and his friends have many of the qualities that parents hope to see in their own preschoolers: They're unfailingly friendly, they jump at the chance to help others in need, and they meet new challenges with a go-getter attitude that ensures the job will get done. None of this will be new to returning Thomas fans, of course, but Blue Mountain Mystery takes it a step beyond these basic social skills and explores the emotions surrounding making mistakes and finding forgiveness, all in a non-judgmental way that encourages kids to see the benefits of communication, honesty, and seeking an adult's guidance to right a wrong.A delightful story with a dose of mystery played out by a cast of unique characters and set to engaging animation and fun music makes this a well-rounded movie for co-viewing adults and kids. If your preschoolers are already familiar with Thomas and his pals, they'll be excited to meet the new characters who make an appearance in this story, and you can use the opening to talk about the process of meeting new people and developing new relationships. And that's not all; by casting one of the characters as a non-native engine who doesn't speak English, the movie goes even farther to reflect society's multicultural nature to open kids' eyes to the unique challenges that face newcomers to a country.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Kids see the characters being helpful, polite, and friendly toward each other. A major component of the plot centers on a young engine's long-held fear that he hurt someone in his past, which makes him afraid to be around his peers. By trusting a new friend and owning up to his mistake, he finds forgiveness from others and eventually is able to forgive himself. Thomas' insatiable curiosity reflects kids' own and leads him to solve a mystery and help a new friend. There's also a multicultural aspect to the story in a Spanish-speaking character who must adapt to a new land and a new language.
Educational Value: Kids will pick up on the basic mechanics of how trains and quarry equipment operate and how different components of a team work together to get a job done. The story has great social lessons about getting along with others, making amends for your mistakes, and adapting to new surroundings.
Role Models: Thomas and his friends model positive qualities like industriousness, determination, teamwork, and friendship through their words and their actions. They're always eager to pitch in and help, even when it means taking on a new, and potentially difficult, challenge. Not all of the characters are admirable, and in this story one goes out of his way to cause trouble for another, but in light of the mostly likable characters, his actions stand out as a good example of how not to be.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: Some of the characters face perilous situations. In one case, an engine narrowly escapes falling through a crumbling bridge; in another, one tumbles into the ocean when his chains come loose from his wheels. The trains are shown scratched and dented but without injury.
Sexy stuff: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Thomas and his pals are the faces of an extensive product line, a TV show, a website, and previous movies. In addition, this movie is accompanied by its own line of toys, clothing, and an app.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue