The Little Engine That Could (2011 film)

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The Little Engine That Could
The Little Engine That Could (2011).jpg
DVD cover
Directed byElliot M. Bour [1]
Produced byRichard Rich
Screenplay byDavid Koepp
John Kamps
Cliff Ruby
Elana Lesser
Story byWatty Piper
StarringAlyson Stoner
Whoopi Goldberg
Patrick Warburton
Jim Cummings
Rodney Saulsberry
Dominic Scott Kay
Brenda Song
Jamie Lee Curtis
Charlie Schlatter
Jodi Benson
Corbin Bleu
Jeff Bennett
Khamani Griffin
Music byHeitor Pereira
Edited byJoe Campana
Distributed byUniversal Studios Home Entertainment
Release date
  • March 22, 2011 (2011-03-22)
Running time
82 minutes [2]
CountryUnited States

The Little Engine That Could is a 2011 American direct-to-DVD computer-animated film based on the story by Watty Piper.[3]


In DreamLand, Little Engine wakes the control tower and the other dream hauler engines up, so she can start work while also dreaming of being a dream hauler. She comes by the birthday train and attempts to follow it to the real world, but she is stopped by the Tower. Little E. then tries to pull several boxcars to Big L., but she ends up causing traffic for the other engines with the Tower reminding her that she is supposed to pull one boxcar at a time due to her small size. Little E. gets a little help from Rusty E., who is an old and wise engine.

In the real world, a boy named Richard shows his friend Marcus his grandfather's watch. Two bullies named Scott and Stretch throw a snowball at Richard, which makes him slip and hand the watch over to them. He is worried that his dad would be unhappy that he lost the watch. Marcus tries to help him, but Richard does not want help from him at all. Richard decides to take a walk in the park, but trips over some train tracks he has never noticed before and find a train nearby. He boards one of its cars to take shelter from the cold, unaware that it is pulled by Rusty (who is sleeping on the job again) and suddenly wakes him up. He immediately returns to DreamLand with Richard inside. While passing through the tunnel to DreamLand, the tunnel collapses, trapping Richard and the trains in DreamLand. After Rusty informs the others what happened, Richard climbs out and is confused and scared by the talking trains. The Tower realizes that Richard's presence in DreamLand has damaged the dream-reality continuum and can only be fixed if Richard is returned to the real world. She sends some of the engines to dig out the tunnel and is forced to demote Rusty to a track-cleaner, much to Little E's dismay. She then offers to take Richard home on the rumored tracks that lead over the mountain. The Tower agrees, sending them both on their way while also promising to give Rusty his job back afterwards and even throw him a Ticker-Tape Parade. While searching for the track, they find themselves being chased by the Evening Express, who can't slow down to avoid hitting them. Richard, who suddenly believes that he is dreaming, tries to fly but ends up falling on the Evening Express. He manages to get back on Little E. but they are pushed off the track by the Evening Express. After rolling through the hills, they manage to get back on the tracks. They suddenly find the birthday train, which had derailed when the tunnel collapsed. Little E. decides to take the train to the real world herself and attempts to get information from the other engines about the old track, but they don't believe the track exists. Little E., Richard, and the toys decide to find the track themselves.

Little E. manages to finds the track leading up the mountain. Along the way, they come across an old bridge that partly collapses when trying to cross it. Richard nearby falls off but is saved by Little E. and Ace. They use an old cargo hook pole as a makeshift rail for the bridge to get across. Later, Little E. runs out of water due to a leak in her water tank, causing the train to roll backward until Richard manages to stop it by applying Little E.'s brakes. A black engine appears and offers to take them back to the real world for her. She agrees but he suddenly reveals himself as N.T., an evil locomotive who can create nightmares and plans to use Richard as a means to send nightmares to the real world and leaves after derailing Little E. and the birthday train. In N.T., Richard is confronted by illusions of the bullies but the others encourage him to stand up to them. Ace escapes and goes to help Little E. After refilling her tank using water from a nearby water tower, she and the Caboose find themselves still unable to get back on the track. Little E. sees another stretch of tracks below and drops down the cliff, successfully landing back on the tracks. Meanwhile, Richard escapes and falls off the train after a failed attempt to uncouple the cars. Little E. finds him and they quickly chase down N.T. While confronting him, the toys sneak out while Little E., Richard, and Ace trick him into speeding down a side-track at rapid speed. Major then uses his badge to plug the leak in Little E.'s tank, and they continue their way up the mountain. They eventually make it to the top and travel through a portal that leads them to the real world, where no time has passed at all.

Little E. returns to DreamLand, tells her story about her trip over the mountain, and is promoted to a dream hauler as a reward for her bravery while Rusty gets his job back. Once back, Richard has gained the confidence to confront the bullies and get his watch back and the bullies are caught by the principal, who is annoyed that they aren't in detention. During the credits, the following photos are shown: toys with the new owners, such as; Hudson with the new American boy, Beverly with the new girl blowing candles from a birthday cake, Lou and Bud with the boy in glasses and safari clothing, Ace with the African-American boy and Major and Jillian with an unknown owner, Richard showing his watch to his class, N.T. defeated and derailed on a snow bank, Rusty's Ticker-Tape Parade and lastly, Little E. taking more trains through the mountain.


  • Alyson Stoner as Little E. - A little steam shunter who dreams of being a Dream Hauler. Becomes close friends with Richard. At first she is unsure about taking the birthday train over the mountain, but with encouragement from Richard and the toys, and remembering Rusty's advice, Little E. manages to bring the train over the mountain to the real world all by herself. Her eyes are on the sides of her cab and mouth on her smokebox much like her in-book look by Loren Long excluding the tender.
  • Whoopi Goldberg as The Tower - A control tower who is in charge of everyone in the train yard.
  • Patrick Warburton as The Caboose - A red caboose who is coupled by the birthday train.
  • Jeff Bennett as Red E. #35 - The Dream Hauler engine who was supposed to take the birthday train through the mountain to the real world. He is red and can sometimes have accidents.
    Bennett also voices Hudson - A green and white sock monkey with a British accent. Hopes to be fun for his child. Richard noted that he once had a sock monkey.
  • Mocean Melvin as Big L. - A silver streamlined diesel Dream Hauler with a purple/orange stripe who's missing a tooth. He is one of the Dream Haulers who was sent to help dig out the tunnel after it collapses.
  • Jim Cummings as Rusty E. - A senior Dream Hauler who offers advice to Little E.. After accidentally bringing Richard to Dreamland, Rusty is demoted to track cleaner. Explains that before the Dream Tunnel was made, Dream Haulers had to go over the mountain. But because it was too dangerous, they decided to make the tunnel.
    Cummings also voices The Evening Express - A white streamlined diesel who pulls a fast express.
  • Rodney Saulsberry as Strong F.T. - A green and orange Dream Hauler engine who hauls heavy freight trains. One of many who was sent to help dig out the tunnel..
  • Brenda Song as Shiny P.T. - A yellow passenger engine who is very full of herself, she is one of many who was sent to help dig out the tunnel.
  • Chelsea Erinne Evered as G.T. - A pink and white diesel engine who gives Rusty a broom-plow in place of his cowcatcher, and gives his cowcatcher back at the end of the film.
  • Ray Porter as N.T. - A black, spooky steam diesel hybrid engine who wanted to deliver scary, creepy dreams. Tricks Little E. into giving him the toys and Richard. Little E. manages to outwit him by taking a wrong track.
  • Dominic Scott Kay as Richard - A boy who wanders into Dreamland when Rusty accidentally falls asleep on the job, ripping a hole in the dream-reality continuum.
  • Khamani Griffin as Marcus - Richard's friend at school.
  • Michael Rodrigo and Luke Williams as Scott and Stretch - A pair of bullies who antagonize Richard in the real world.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis as Beverly - A female clown toy who serves as leader of the toys.
  • Charlie Schlatter as Major - A toy soldier who sometimes finishes his sentences with "sir". Gives up his badge to help bandage a leak in Little E.'s water tank.
  • Jodi Benson as Jillian - A ballerina doll who dances when she is happy.
  • Corbin Bleu and Rodney Saulsberry as Lou and Bud - A pair of twin stuffed giraffe toys. Lou has spots while Bud has yellow and orange squares. Lou is the more talkative one while Bud doesn't speak until near the end of the film.
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Ace - A small toy plane who doesn't speak. When the toys are taken by the Nightmare Train, Ace manages to escape and warn Little E.
  • Glenn Shadix as Arkana. This was Shadix's final film role before his death on September 7th 2010.


The Little Engine That Could has a mixed to positive response[4] holding a 68% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

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