THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER is a 1987 movie that proves you do not
need a big budget to make an animated film that is an absolute delight
for people of all ages. A simple story, if well done with lots of
imagination, is more important than sophisticated computer generated
effects and multimillion dollar voices.
THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER tells the story of five appliances who go
in search of their beloved master. Each one of the appliances is so
adorable you will feel like filling adoption papers for them. The
story (Thomas M. Disch) and the directing (Jerry Rees) could not have
had better development or timing. Only the pleasant but eminently
forgettable songs in the film could have been better. The music itself
is dramatic and effective.
The five main appliances are a vacuum cleaner, a baby's electric
blanket, a desk lamp, an old tube radio, and an old fashioned chrome
toaster. The vacuum cleaner named Kirby (voice by Thurl Ravenscroft)
is the pseudo-tough guy. The sweet little blanket is called Blanky
(voice by Timothy E. Day). The comic but resourceful lamp is simply
Lampy (voice by Tim Stack). The one with a radio program to play that
will answer any predicament is known just as The Radio (voice by Jon
Lovitz). Finally, the star and the lest confident of all is the brave
Toaster (voice by Deanna Oliver).
The drawing of the characters, especially their movement, has as
much character as the snappy and intelligent dialog, which is a big
compliment. Watch, for example, how Blanky slinks along and generally
reminds you of a crawling baby. Equally imaginative is the movement of
the lamp cord on Lampy and the antenna on The Radio. Kirby even has
big teeth where the dust goes in so that he can try to look tough - he
is actually a gentle character. All of the characters have big soulful
eyes that will capture your heart.
When the story opens, the appliances in an old cabin realize that
The Master (voice by Timothy E. Day) is gone and may not be coming
back. Blanky keeps his picture under the blanket at all times. The
Master is a lovable looking kid with red hair, glasses and a big smile.
There is even a mean Air Conditioner (voice by Phil Hartman) with
a voice that mimics Jack Nickolson's. Before he overheats and blows
up, he complains of the others that, "The whole bunch of you must have
a combined wattage of maybe five. It's scrap metal time." They worry
that with the master gone the Air Conditioner may be right so they hit
upon a scheme to travel to the city to look for The Master. This means
they must figure out a method of transportation, a mechanism for
movable power, and how to navigate through the forest. This show is
full of good lessons for kids as they learn the value of creativity and
resourcefulness plus it is a lot of fun watching their failed attempts
until they hit upon a successful plan.
Along the way they run into lots of trouble. As they are crossing
a waterfall, The Radio reassures them with, "I think Houdini did this
once, and if I remember right, he was out of the hospital in no time."
To which Lampy replies, "Well, that's reassuring." Later, after they
have another near escape from death, Lampy remarks, "I really thought
I'd turned in my warrantee that time."
The Radio is an optimist and tells them, "Things could be worse
you know." "How?" asks Lampy. "How what?" says The Radio. "How could
they be worse?" asks Lampy. "They couldn't; I lied," finally confesses
When they find The Master's new apartment it is locked, but this
is no problem for our clever team. The Radio informs them that,
"Thanks to my war training, I will simply render the secret appliance
knock, and we will be welcomed by the native machinery." Once inside
they are amazed at all the modern gadgets. Lampy reflects, "I've never
seen contraptions with so many dials and knobs before." To which the
Computer (voice by Randy Bennett) explains, "Naturally, we are on the
cutting edge of technology." Here the lesson is clear, the simpler
things in life may actually be the best. Smaller is beautiful.
From beginning to end the show is a delight. Although I would
give most of the credit to the writer and director, the simple but
effective drawings add a lot. The characters and the landscape are
carefully drawn, but never overly dramatic. The show is full of bright
primary colors, and although there are a few evil characters in the
show, the tone and message of the show is extremely upbeat. If you
must have the dramatic realism of THE LION KING to like an animated
feature film, then you may be disappointed by THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER.
But if the characters are the most important part of a story to you,
then you may fall in love with THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER as much as I
THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER runs a perfect 1:30. It is correctly
rated G. There is nothing to offend anyone. There are a few images
like an appliance being taken apart and a metal crusher at a junk yard
that might scare kids age 3 or under, but maybe not. Certainly,
Jeffrey (now 7) has loved the film for many years, and we watch it
often. I absolutely love the show and would even if I didn't have
kids. I give it my strongest recommendation and rate it a full ****.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes