‘ Just ’cause you move around, you think you’re better than I am. I’m not an invalid. I was designed to stick in the wall! I like being stuck in the stupid wall! I can’t help it if the kid was too short to reach my dials… ‘ – Air Conditioner
You may have noticed that a lot of the reviews on my site seem to revolve around Disney movies which are lesser known/loved. This review is no different, as I have decided to review The Brave Little Toaster. It was released in 1987, based on a 1980 book of the same name. I had only seen this movie once before, so I thought I would give it another try, and review it too.
The film starts off quietly and dark, right before sunrise. We are quickly introduced to the characters, one by one, and are given a taste of their individual personalities. Kirby the vacuum cleaner (Thurl Ravenscroft, the Haunted Mansion, Tony the Tiger, Country Bear Jamboree), Blanky the electric blanket (Timothy E. Day), Lampy the lamp (Tim Stack), Radio the radio (Jon Lovitz, Saturday Night Live) and Toaster the, erm, toaster(Deanna Oliver). At the beginning of the film there is also a moody air conditioner (Phil Hartman) that loses his temper with the other characters and explodes. It is interesting to note that each character is the opposite in personality to the purpose they serve. For example, the Lamp is rather dim; the electric (security) blanket is insecure, and the vacuum that usually holds things inside has a nervous breakdown.
It soon becomes apparent that the appliances have been left there by someone, a little boy who they call ‘master’. On a couple of occasions they are led to believe that their master is coming home, hearing the door or seeing a car coming toward the house. Of course this is not the case, and we see how deeply saddened the appliances are when their dreams are shattered, especially Blanky who cries and wails as he misses his master so much. The inside of the house is rather dark, which adds to the overall sadness we witness in the characters. No doubt children will be especially familiar with the fear of abandonment, particularly by their parents.
When it is obvious that the master is not coming back, the five appliances set out into the world to try to find him. Cue enlightening song ‘City of Lights’, which actually does seem to brighten the mood. Their journey continues, encountering frogs, fish, mice and many other strange things along the way. There are also a couple of slower scenes where they are settling down for the night, which don’t seem to aid the story too much, apart from reinforcing their love for the master. Oh, and there is a rather scary scene involving a clown trying to murder the toaster with a hose and then dangling him over a full bath. This is in the toaster’s dream of course, and even though I am personally not scared of clowns, I can’t see children being too fond of it! This (understandable) fear of water seems to hinder them throughout the film, and at one point four of the characters have fallen down a waterfall, with the vacuum leaping in afterwards to save them.
Not long after their heroics, the appliances end up with a large man called Elmo St.Peters (Joe Ranft) who owns an appliance parts store, of course with many other appliances for the main characters to interact with. They meet a peculiar hanging lamp, as well as a character called ‘Mish-Mash’ who says it has been created with a can opener, lamp and an electric shaver, and is quite freaky looking. All of the characters here have bits missing or wrong bits added to them. The whole place is rather creepy, complete with a strange song ‘It’s a B Movie’ and the five heroes decide that they need to get out of there before the man uses them for parts.
It is soon revealed that the master, who we saw as a young boy at the start of the film in flashbacks, is now a college student. Clearly the appliances have been missing him for many years. They arrive at his apartment finding that he has left, and whilst there they meet some more modern appliances. These appliances convince them that they have outlived their usefulness. They throw them into a dumpster and they are taken away to be disposed of. Meanwhile, Rob (the master) has returned to his childhood home and found that the appliances are missing. He also fixes the air conditioner while he is there.
The junkyard scene is rather depressing. Singing cars are dragged down a conveyer belt and crushed to death by a giant crusher. The song is ‘Worthless’, and the cars are singing about their glory days when they were still able to drive, whilst a giant menacing magnet grabs them and tosses them onto the conveyer belt. I think that this song is probably the best one on the soundtrack, though it does seem a bit odd in a kid’s film to have ‘living’ characters visibly murdered, cars or otherwise. The appliances are picked up by the huge magnet, from where they can see their master who is also at the junkyard. They jump off of the moving belt and start to run towards the master; however the magnet is close behind them, chasing them down; though this is not as scary as the clown scene! The master finds them, but the magnet snatches them away from him, the sky turning dark pinks and browns as the master almost ends up under the crusher. In an act of bravery (hence the title of the film) the toaster jumps into the mechanism, causing the crusher to stop, and save the master’s life.
Following this, the appliances move to college with their master, a happy ending!
The DVD I used to review this has a ‘Making Of’ Feature, and that’s it for the special features! I did come across a 2010 interview with the Director of the film (Jerry Rees) and the voice of the Toaster (Deanna Oliver), which is quite an interesting watch.
Suicides and murders aside, this is a nice little movie, and though its title and the art on the DVD box seem to convey a very bright happy film, it is a touch on the dark side. Though not dark in the sense of some of the other Disney films which play with adult themes, but a film which toys with childish themes, which in turn affect a broader audience.
In honesty, I struggled to give this film a rating, as it is one of the stranger Disney films I have seen, and after learning more about it, I think I appreciate it a little bit more!
I give this movie 3 Tinks.