Review – The Brave Little Toaster (1987)

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the-brave-little-toaster-55e06a984ff2dWelcome to Kid’s Week: Day 4. That’s right, two reviews today, as well. I wasn’t initially planning to watch and review The Brave Little Toaster, but the film came up this week, and since it’s been so long, I felt like it would certainly be interesting to give this a go, and boy how memorable the film ultimately is. It all comes crashing back as soon as you start watching, which is definitely a sign of a good kid’s film…but I’ve never watched as an adult, so will it be okay for the whole family? We’ll see. Let’s just start with the plot.

A group of dated appliances that find themselves stranded in a summer home that their family had just sold, decide to, á la “The Incredible Journey”, seek their young 8 year old “master”. Children’s film which on the surface is a frivolous fantasy, but with a dark subtext of abandonment, obsolescence, and loneliness. – IMDb

Have you ever wondered what Toy Story would be like if they changed the title into Appliance Story? Well, wonder no more! When the humans are away, the appliances come out to play and go on an adventure! For real, though, it has that basic feel when you’re watching it. However, not even one of those final scenes in Toy Story 3 could match the level of darkness this film has at its core. It may be colorful and silly, but some sequences were downright terrifying and I loved every second of that. You don’t see kids movies like this anymore, folks.

These are appliances, and every single one of them faces actual dangers imposed on those actual appliances. Like a lamp that uses a light bulb as his nose, and that light bulb shatters? Or something more spooky, an overheating toaster where the smoke coming out of it is enveloping a child? How about when the toaster has a nightmare of being plugged in while falling into a bathtub? How about the menacing evil clown? How about the gang of evil appliances? How about the disposal yard that wasn’t only going to kill the appliances and turn them into tiny cubes, but it was just about to do that to a human who was stuck on the belt, too? Don’t even ask me what happens next. *shutters*. Needless to say, this film is dark, and they rated it G while they have movies like Minions and Trolls that are super light-hearted and are rated PG…mostly because G doesn’t exist anymore…but still!

First impressions aside, how was the rest of the movie? Well, let’s get right into that.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 7/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1

We start off with the people category, or appliance category if you rather. Being a film that’s actually older than I am, I can’t really speak about the casting. While everyone did just fine, could anyone else fill these roles? I would have to say yes. I wasn’t that impressed by specifically the voice of Toaster, and he/she? is the main title character. So, typically speaking, the acting isn’t impressive because it never really needs to be. The characters, however, are very memorable. I don’t know what it is about them, but I couldn’t even tell you the last time I saw this it was so long ago, but I remembered each of them really well. Each of the appliances has their own obvious roles that further to help move the story along, so they all have their use. I wouldn’t say they had tremendous chemistry with one another, but it’s still not a huge complaint. The only character flaw I really saw was that the appliances needed a generator for power so that the vacuum could power on and pull them – when you see these characters move around all the time without the need for being plugged in…soooooo…plot hole.

WRITING SCORE – 10/10
Dialogue – 2|Balance – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2

Next, we’ll go over the writing category, which received full points. I wouldn’t have initially given dialogue full points, but because the film doubles as a musical, I consider the music to contribute to what the dialogue is saying, so that ended up getting full points. It is a very balanced story, as there’s always one goal in mind and there’s never really too many characters to dilute that kind of pacing. The story itself was deep and emotional when you dig down deep. As I said in the beginning of this review, the film is dark, and it covers things like isolation, abandonment, loneliness, and depression, which I don’t normally see in kids films, which makes this a very good kids movie…if you can find it. I haven’t seen the sequels, but I’m not really planning to, either. I consider this fully original and as interesting as the day it was released.

BTS SCORE – 8/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2

We’re moving right along to the things going on behind-the-scenes. While I think the visuals were probably top notch in 1987, I wouldn’t necessarily say that anymore. You can sense the age on the animation as well as hear it in the spoken lines, as well. The directing, likewise, didn’t really seem like a huge challenge, but the editor actually did some interesting things in the film – especially during the musical parts in the movie.  I still think this is a film that’s completely as-advertised and you know what, the music is still good. I totally feel as if some of the songs are really creepy, but maybe that’s a good thing because they have stuck with me for decades.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 10/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2

The narrative structure was just as strong as some of the other categories in this film, as it gets a full score. The introduction didn’t just get us acquainted with these appliances, but how they interact with one another – so you can kind of get a good idea of how the rest of the film will be. The inciting incident is when they all team up and head out into the wilderness to find their master. The obstacles really come down to what you’d normally expect from adventure films like this – you have a lot of man vs. wilderness things here, but also some man vs. man too…or machine vs. machine if you’d rather. The climax was a really good culmination of everything, and the falling action set everything back to a new norm, perfecting the narrative structure for The Brave Little Toaster. 

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 6/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks you in – 1

Don’t be fooled, a six is still a very good score for the entertainment category. I wouldn’t have initially said it was a very rewatchable movie, but there’s a lot to appreciate from this film, and I really wouldn’t mind rewatching it again. I also consider the film to be fun, even though it is sometimes not very subtle when it came to the darkness at the core of the film. I probably wouldn’t really care to buy or own it, though. It’s good enough to rewatch, but rewatch it that often? Nah. I would consider it still important enough to discuss, though. I wouldn’t lose my mind if I couldn’t talk to someone about it, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know about this film. Finally, does it suck you in? I think during some parts, absolutely – like the music sequences, but other parts may not. I was sucked in, but I understand part of that could be nostalgia, so I won’t go over the top and say it’ll suck anyone in.

TOTAL SPECIAL – 40/50
Kid’s Week – 10|Family – 10|Comedy – 5|Age – 5|Halfway Decent – 10

Alright, now we’re onto the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the film. It is Kid’s Week, and this fits really well into this theme. It is definitely a wonderful kids film with lots of very important messages. The family will also appreciate it for some of its pop-culture references as well as some surprising innuendos that sometimes show up. As for the comedy, I’d have to say most of it didn’t really work for me…maybe I’m special, though. The sense of humor is super diverse so some may love it for its humor. Half points there. Does it age well? As I said earlier, not really. I think the story itself does age well, but the visuals of the film look, feel, and sound a bit aged, so I can’t help but give half points here. Finally, is it halfway decent? Surprisingly, I definitely believe it is!

TOTAL – 81/100

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