Bullies suck. "Being useful" is good. Magic is cool. You just can't argue with these irrefutable facts in the world of Thomas and the Magic Railroad, a preschool adventure based on the successful television series about the little tank engine that could. The lessons may be admirable, but creator/director/writer Britt Allcroft has created a scattered children's tale that looks good, but feels messy.

She has done some things right: she's cast big stars, like Alec Baldwin as the Lilliputian Mr. Conductor, and Peter Fonda as the sad grandpa, Burnett Stone; her production designers have continued the show's happy train colors, with bright blues and reds, and have added bonus design touches to the live sets and wardrobe; her script applauds positive thinking, creativity, and foiling the bad guy. It's just that all of this is mired in a clunky set of hole-filled plots, confusing enough to make me want to interrogate the little guy sitting in front of me.

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