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A toaster and radio, lamp and a blanket,
As well as a vacuum called Kirby reside
Alone in a mountainside cottage and spend
Their days cleaning up the old cabin’s inside.
They dream of the day when their Master will come,
The boy who would play with their dials and chrome.
One day Toaster says they should go on a trip
To the city and locate their Master’s new home.
They load on an office chair, battery-powered,
With Kirby propelling them over the fields.
They run into animals after a song,
As well as a storm and the power it wields.
Through dangers they travel until they are nabbed
By Elmo St. Peters, who’ll harvest their parts.
They trigger a jail break with their fellow tools
And head for the city with all of their hearts.
They find the apartment the Master calls home,
But he will soon leave for his school’s freshman year.
His other appliances, jealous of them,
Send Toaster and friends to the dump when they’re near.
So close to destruction, they nearly lose hope,
But Master’s in search of a handy device.
He finds them but nearly is killed by a crusher,
Till Toaster saves him with a brave sacrifice.
Delighted to have his appliances back,
Nostalgia drives him to repair the old tool.
Again with the Master, they cruise off to college
To service their owner while he is at school.

Coming out soon after The Great Mouse Detective, The Brave Little Toaster was another sign that Disney was gradually improving its animation department, leading to the Disney Renaissance a few years later. With touches of The Incredible Journey, it also is a clear forerunner of 1995’s Toy Story and included some filmmakers, such as Joe Ranft, that went on to success at Pixar. The idea of inanimate objects coming to life when left alone, pining for their owner, and ending up in a dump no doubt inspired the first and third Toy Story films, and the appliances’ retaliation against Elmo St. Peters is similar to the toys’ revenge on Sid, who also cruelly takes them apart.

To be honest, parts of the movie are very juvenile, particularly the encounter with the woodland creatures, and the first song is okay but rather saccharine. Yet the film gets progressively darker as it goes, with the appliances cheating death on several occasions. Plus, the climax is unusually intense considering its lighthearted beginning, and it features a traumatic clown scene that may induce coulrophobia in the young.

The animation is passable, but the voice actors do a tremendous job creating their respective characters, particularly Jon Lovitz as the overly talkative Radio and Thurl Ravenscroft as Kirby the vacuum cleaner. (I kept expecting the latter to say “They’re grrrrrreat!”) All the characters are also surprisingly well-developed, each one (aside from Toaster) being unlikable in their own way but proving their worth by providing a valuable service during the trek. Plus, you’ve got to love all the appliance humor.

The best part for me is definitely the songs. As I said, the first song “City of Light” is good for what it is, but the songs get increasingly ambitious, rising above the music in other kiddie films. My VC loves “It’s a B-Movie,” and I most enjoy “Worthless,” an extremely catchy tune with a brief saxophone solo and some very serious subject matter when you get right down to it. (I know both by heart.) “Cutting Edge” is also quite good, though it dates the film with its boasting of what was high-tech back then.

All in all, The Brave Little Toaster is an excellent kids’ movie in which adults can find plenty to enjoy as well. For kids at heart, like me, it’s a true classic.

Best line: (Radio; it comes out of nowhere so it’s funniest with no explanation) “Why, if we were all wiener dogs, our problems would be solved.”

Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 5
Originality: 8
Watchability: 6
TOTAL: 39 out of 60

Next: #228 – Rocky II

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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