Look hard enough and you can usually find some subversive subtext in anything deemed a `cult' kids' series. But squeaky clean Thomas The Tank Engine has always resisted scrutiny (unless The Fat Controller is a bondage freak). And while Thomas's first chug into cinemas keeps this cleanliness, the script is so bizarrely messy that you have to wonder if writer/ director Britt Allcroft was firing on all neurons.
The action is split between the island of Sodor (the trains' home) and the real-world Shining Time Station. Some bad diesel trains arrive in Sodor, Peter Fonda's grumpy (his special lady-train won't work), Mr Conductor (Alec Baldwin) loses his teleporting dust and, um, there's something about a magic railroad.
Cue much train-face eye-rolling, daffy CG effects and mucho moralising. What did we learn? That "helping each other brings to life the magic in all of us." Clear as frickin' soot.