- The Brave Little Toaster (film)
name = The Brave Little Toaster
rating = G
Willard Carroll Donald Kushner Thomas L. Wilhite
Thomas M. Disch(book and story) Brian McEntee(story) Joe Ranft(story)
Jon Lovitz Tim Stack Timothy E. Day Thurl Ravenscroft Deanna Oliver
music = David Newman
Van Dyke Parks
Buena Vista Pictures Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
July 10, 1987
runtime = 90 min.
country = United States
language = English
budget = US$2.3 million [Datlow and Windling (2001), p. xlv.]
followed_by = "
The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars" (1998)
amg_id = 1:6966
imdb_id = 0092695
"The Brave Little Toaster" is an animated
filmfrom 1987, directed by Jerry Rees, written by Thomas M. Disch, produced by Hyperion Picturesalong with The Kushner-Locke Companyand released by Walt Disney Pictures. The story follows five household appliances—Lampy (a lamp), Blanky (an electric blanket), Radio (a radio), Kirby (a Kirby vacuum cleaner), and the Toaster (a toaster)—on their quest to find their owner, Rob (also referred to as "The Master").
The film was based on the novel of the same name, written by Disch, which first appeared in "
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" in 1980.
In 1988, it was the first animated film to be exhibited at the
Sundance Film Festival, and the only one for 10 years until 1998's " I Married a Strange Person".
Two of the voice actors,
Jon Lovitz(Radio) and Phil Hartman(Air Conditioner/Hanging Lamp), were then-current cast members of " Saturday Night Live" and guest stars for " The Simpsons" later on. Another, Thurl Ravenscroft(Kirby), was best remembered as the voice of Tony the Tiger.
Many members of
Pixar Animation Studioswere involved with this film, including John Lasseter, whose trademark A113appears on Master's door, and Joe Ranft.
The film opens with a slow pan into a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods. A radio activates and begins to give the news as the other appliances (a lamp, an
electric blanket, a vacuum cleaner, an air conditioner, and a toaster) wake up. Viewers learn that they have been left in the woods for many years by their master, a young child. Every time a car passes, they swarm to an overlooking window, hoping that he has returned. This is to the great amusement of the Air Conditioner, who was always jealous that the master played more with the others than himself. When the others confront him, he becomes furious and blows a fuse, apparently dying.
After the five appliances find out that the cabin is for sale, implying the coming of a new master, Toaster announces that they must go out to find their own master. Using an office chair pulled by Kirby, the vacuum cleaner, the group sets out into the world, heading for the "City of Light". The Radio acts as a navigator.
That night, the appliances enact the first of many fights, having found themselves slightly off-course. Toaster suggests that they sleep until morning. Blanky (the electric blanket) crawls around the others, wanting to sleep with someone due to his habit, but is refused by all, even Toaster. He finally falls asleep hugging a picture of the master that he brought along.
In the morning, the group finds themselves in a colorful
meadowthat is home to many curious animals who have presumably never seen appliances before. When their attentionbecomes too much for Toaster, he hides in the forest, only to find a lonely flower. The flower sees its reflectionon Toaster's metal surface and embraces it. Toaster flees in confusion, only to look back to find the flower has wilted. Afterwards, he decides to be nicer to Blanky because of this.
Leaving the meadow, the group camps out in the woods. Lampy, feeling awkward, asks Toaster the reason for which he is being kind to Blanky. After several failed attempts to explain by making similar emotions of compassion to warmth, Toaster describes the feeling he has as a glow. Lampy, understanding, recalls feeling the same way when he thinks about the master.
Toaster then has a nightmare about being reunited with the master only to have him taken away by a puff of smoke. A demonic
evil clowndressed as a firefighter then emerges and attacks the appliance with a stream of water in the form of flying forks. Toaster wakes up as he falls into a bathtub, to find that a storm is brewing in reality. Blanky is swept up by a gust of wind and disappears into the night. The others try to follow him, but their batteries cease to support them. Remembering the description of compassion, Lampy points to the sky by acting as a lightning rodto conduct electricity, breaking his bulb and collapses.
The next morning, Lampy is revived, but still burned and a tiny bit sick and Kirby helps Blanky out of a tree, into which he had been blown by the wind. However, although the others are friends now, the long-aloof Kirby still distances himself from them. When they reach a
waterfall, Kirby almost swallows his own power cord. Kirby then says a speech about about how much he'd be better off without his friends. The group attempts to cross the waterfall by climbing across attached with their cords. Unfortunately, they slip and fall, leaving only Kirby on the cliffs as he watches the others plunge towards the water. The vacuum finally shows his love for his friends by saving them. When they come to shore, they realize that, although safe, they are completely lost.
After the waterfall peril, the group finds themselves sinking in
quicksand. Radio is the last to submerge; he therefore plays a final song (" My Mammy"). A rotund man, Elmo St. Peters, overhears this and pulls the appliances out. They are taken to a junk shop, where they are told by the many appliances there that life is a precarious, frightening situation for them (like a "B-Movie"), largely because Elmo is prone to dismantle any appliance on which he lays his hands and sell its components.
A customer comes in and asks for radio tubes, putting Radio in danger. As Elmo begins to cheerfully take him apart, the other four decide to break the unwritten appliance code of never coming to life in the presence of a human (or any other living thing, or organism). They dress as a
ghostto scare Elmo away. The plan works; the group (along with every other appliance in the shop) escapes. Traveling through the night, they finally make it to the city.
Meanwhile, we find the master, Rob, who is now much older, being eighteen and getting ready to leave for
college. Because he needs appliances for his dormitory, he returns to the cabin in search of the protagonists.
As Rob and his laconic girlfriend, Chris, leave, the appliances find their way to his apartment. The "Cutting Edge" appliances inside decide to dump the newcomers into a wastebin assuming Rob will take them to college instead because of their greater technological sophistication.
Rob finds the cabin empty, fixes the Air Conditioner, and goes home in dejection. Hope is not lost; the Black and White TV, a good friend of the protagonistic appliances, broadcasts advertisements for the dump where the appliances have been taken, advertising it as an attractive store.
The appliances, meanwhile, find themselves being stalked through the junkyard full of "Worthless" cars by a Giant Magnetic Crane, who intends stubbornly to drop them into a Trash Compactor. As the Crane grabs car after car, the cars recite their histories to the dismayed protagonists. Rob arrives in time to save the appliances (aside from Toaster, whom he does not see). As he is leaving, the Magnet comes down and grabs them all, including Rob, and drops them on a conveyor belt delivering objects for the Trash Compactor. In an act of self-sacrifice, Toaster jumps into the Compactor's gears and manages to stop the machine from destroying his friends and the Master.
Once Rob returns to the apartment, he then fixes Toaster and takes them to college with him.
Deanna Oliveras Toaster, the protagonist. As the title suggests, he is brave despite his fear of water, which is common to any appliance. As the movie goes on, he becomes kinder towards the other appliances. He is also the leader of the group, often breaking up fights between Lampy and Radio, and trying his best to cheer up Blanky when he is depressed. He also has a fear of clowns, judging by his nightmare. The gender of Toaster is also extremely ambiguous, and since he is never referred to as "he" or "she" in any of the films, it's impossible to determine his actual gender. Tim Stackas Lampy, an orange and yellow desktop lamp, who despite his "brightness" is quite dim in the thinking department. He risks his life by electrocuting himself with lighting to fill the generator. He also the only appliance who can apparently read as he was seen reading the address of the Master and in the " The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars" he made a list of things to take on the trip. Jon Lovitzas Radio, a tube-based and possibly, a clock-faced radio (the rare WFC-11-12-55). Radio is sometimes annoying to the other appliances and sometimes never shuts up. Timothy E. Dayas Blanky, a childish fuzzy heating blanket. Blanky is the baby of the group and always needs to be comforted. The appliances thinks he's very annoying but Toaster cares about him and treats him like his own brother. Thurl Ravenscroftas Kirby, a vacuum cleaner. Although he is heavy, he can float on water. He does not clean up after cats because he is "allergic" to kitty litter, as this is revealed in " The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue". Seemingly cantankerous and bossy toward the others but has a heart of gold. He actually cares very much about them and risks his life to save them several times. His catch phrase is "I just know I'm gonna regret this." Kirby experiences moments of glory, but still denies any affection for them. He has a change of heart by the end of the story. Joe Ranftas Elmo St. Peters, the owner of an appliance shop. He first appears rescuing the protagonists from sinking in the quicksand. He has a pet dog named Quadruped, and drives a truck with abnormally large wheels. His habit is to acquire appliances, dismantle them, and sell their component parts, which he misrepresents as the last he had in supply. He could easily be called a villain for the threat he poses to the characters. Phil Hartmanas Air Conditioner and Hanging Lamp. The Air Conditioner is a Nicholson-esque appliance that appears at the beginning of the movie. He is sarcastic, has lost faith that the master is coming back, and taunts the others for hoping. They say he is only jealous because he's stuck in the wall, which sends him into a rage. He overheats and blows himself up. Near the end of the film, he is fixed by the master and is very happy with tears.
The Hanging Lamp character of Elmo's workshop bears a strong resemblance, both physically and audibly, to
Peter Lorre. He is also somewhat physically akin to the Giant Magnet. Although apparently sinister, he is never shown physically harming the protagonists and even gives Lampy a new bulb.
Other Parts Shop Appliances (voiced by
The Disney Chorus) include a television, a pencil sharpener, a fan, a megaphone, a lamp (with no shade), a waffle iron, a cassette player, a tape recorder, a popcorn popper, a record player, a coffee pot(which could be considered a "mish-mash"), a stove, and a refrigerator. Although insane, they are by no means evil. Judy Tollas Mish-Mash, a "deformed" appliance at the Parts Shop. Her speech is a parody of Joan Rivers. She is part can opener, part lamp, and part shaver. She cries bloodily "Hey look at me, I mean really! Barf! Barf! Barf! I'm a can opener, a lamp & a shaver! Oh God! I'm a Mish-Mash!" Jonathan Benairas T.V., an old black and white television that the master brought with him when he first moved out of the cottage and into the city with his family. T.V. is a very friendly fellow, who is overjoyed to see Toaster, Blanky, Lampy, Radio, and Kirby when they arrive at the master's apartment. His anthropomorphic traits differ from those of the other characters; similar to Radio, he communicates via a certain TV channel, on which he displays a newscaster-like man. Like Radio, changing the channel away from this character seems to immobilize him. Later in the story he uses this character to advertise Ernie's Disposal (where the master's jealous new appliances sent the main characters) as a cheap appliance store in an attempt to get the master to go there and hopefully recover the five missing appliances. Jim Jackmanas Plugsy, a purple lamp who is one of the Master's jealous appliances responsible for sending Toaster and friends to Ernie's Disposal. Plugsy has a deep voiceand a large, round bottom lip. Plugsy from the start agrees with his cutting-edge colleagues to throw away Toaster and his companions. But later, Plugsy learns that the Master still has his love for the five. Plugsy learns from this is that either one way or another, the Master would never take him or any of the other cutting-edge appliances, and Plugsy has a big sad frown on his face.
Other Cutting Edge Appliances include an
entertainment system(voiced by -?-), a personal computer(voiced by Randy Bennet), a sewing machine, a food processor, a vacuum cleaner, an egg beater, a toaster oven, a telephone, a fiber optic Red and Blue Lampand a boom box. Their song "Cutting Edge" contrasts strongly with the later "Worthless." Plugsy is the only named character in this group, despite not being hi-tech like the rest.
The Giant Magnet appears near the end of the film at Ernie's Disposal. He happily feeds the Car Crusher by using his magnetic, circular underside to grab anything metallic. When Toaster and the others escape him for the first time, he seems to become very
keenon catching them. Although merely performing a job (not unlike Elmo St. Peters) when viewers are first introduced to him, he becomes a true villain, persistently stalking the appliances to ensure their destruction. Silent but deadly; he never utters a word. The Giant Magnet glows golden-yellow when he gets "very" angry.
The Firefighter Clown is an
evil clownwith a sinister, demonic appearance, and wearing a fireman suit. He is seen briefly in Toaster's nightmare, and is the minor villian, emerging before a terrified Toaster and trying to physically harm him through spraying a stream of forks in his path. His only line of dialogue during this sequence is "Run!" and a maniacal laugh heard off-screen.
Cars (voiced by
The Disney Chorus) populate the junkyard where the appliances are taken. The cars include a male blue car, a female pink car, a red sports car, a green racing car, a yellow wedding car, a purple hearse, a holiday bus & a small green pickup truck. They sing "Worthless" as the Giant Magnet lowers them to their destruction.
Rob (voiced by
Wayne Kaatz), better known as "The Master" is the owner of the appliances, and has an unusually strong attachment to them. He has a girlfriend named Chris and in the second movie they get engaged and in the third movie they get married and have a kid. Wayne Kaatz is also the voice of blanky.
Chris (voiced by
Colette Savage) Rob's girlfriend, who doesn't quite understand his attachment to his old "junk" or his insistence in purchasing used appliances instead of taking the offering of his mother's more up-to-date appliances.
The Brave Little Toaster has songs by
Van Dyke Parksand a score by David Newman.
City of Light (sometimes mistakenly called "City of Lights") is the upbeat song sung by the five main appliances as they set off in search of the Master. Soon after the happy song, the film gets much darker. This is the only song to be featured as a theme in David Newman's score and is heard several times later.
B-Movie Show (sometimes mistakenly called "Like a Movie" or "It's a B Movie") is the showstopper performed by the demented junkshop appliances, who have lost their minds after watching multiple "murders" of their own kind for spare parts. It features a pipe organ as one of the main instruments (in addition to some disco-like instrumentals as well) and is mainly a homage to various famous horror movies.
Cutting Edge (sometimes called "More" or "More, More, More") is the "villain song" of the movie, sung by the nasty new appliances that replaced the main five at the master's house. It is a techno song that appears to be a spoof of the general sound of commercials that ran around the time of the film's release.
Worthless is another disco-style song sung by the cars of the junkyard, each one singing a verse about their life before being smashed to death. It's been speculated that each car represents an age or ethnic group that is considered "worthless" by society.
David Newman's score for this movie was one of his earlier works and apparently one that he felt very close to. He didn't view it as an overly happy movie and decided to give it a dramatic score to go with that idea.
Each character has its own theme. The Toaster has a sad sounding, looping one (Newman says this is because she's unsure of herself and "reflects" others), the Radio's is a loud, brassy fanfare, Lampy has two themes (one goofy-sounding and one sweet), Blanky has another sad theme (child-like), and Kirby's theme is grumpy. In addition to them, there is an uplifting theme for the master, a silly one for the junkshop owner, Elmo (though it is played as sinister in the scenes where he takes the appliances apart) and a main theme that can be written to convey many emotions.
The film rights to "The Brave Little Toaster", the original novel, were bought by the Disney Studios in 1982, two years after its appearance in print. After
John Lasseterand Glen Keanehad finished the short 2D / 3D test film based on the book, " Where the Wild Things Are", he and Thomas L. Wilhitedecided they wanted to make a whole feature this way. The story they chose was "The Brave Little Toaster", but in their enthusiasm, they unknowingly stepped on some of their direct superiors' toes by going around them in their effort to get the project into motion. One of them, the animation administrator Ed Hansen [ [http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/print/13451.aspx Jim Hill : "To Infinity and Beyond!" is an entertaining look back at Pixar's first two decades ] ] disliked it so much that when Lasseter and Wilhite tried to sell the idea to him and Ron Miller, which they at that time were already aware of, they turned it down, largley due to the idea of having traditionaly animated characters inside more-costly computer-generated backgrounds. A few minutes after the meeting, Lasseter received a phone call from Hansen and was asked to come down to his office, where John was told that his job had been terminated. The development was then transferred to the new Hyperion Pictures, the creation of former Disney employees Thomas L. Wilhiteand Willard Carroll, who took the production along with them.Beck (2005), pp. 40-41.]
With Disney backing the project, "Toaster" soon turned into an independent effort; the electronics company
TDKand video distributor CBS-Foxsoon joined in. In 1986, Hyperion began to work on the story and characters, with Taiwan's Wang Film Productionsfor the overseas unit.Beck (2005), pp. 40-41.] The cost was reduced to $2.3 million as production began. Jerry Rees, a crew member on two previous Disney films, "The Fox and the Hound" and "Tron", and a friend of Lasseter, was chosen to direct the movie, and was also a writer on the screenplay along with Joe Ranft. Rees' inspiration for voice casting came from the Groundlingsimprovisational group, some of whose members ( Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman, Timothy Stackand Mindy Sterling) voiced characters in the film. Lovitz and Hartman were stars of " Saturday Night Live" at the time. The color stylist was veteran Disney animator Ken O'Connor, a member of Disney's feature animation department from its establishment.Beck (2005), pp. 40-41.]
"The Brave Little Toaster" was initially released on
July 10, 1987, and made its way to the Sundance Film Festivalthe following year. Despite being a favorite with festival audiences, it failed to find a distributor. Disney, who held the video and TV rights, withheld its official theatrical distribution, intending it to be shown on its new premium cable service instead. The buzz it generated at Sundance dissipated, and it only received limited theatrical airings through Hyperion, mainly at arthouse facilities across the U.S., and most notably at the Film Forumin New York City, in May 1989. Disney finally premiered the movie on home video in June 1991; throughout the 90s onward, it enjoyed huge popularity as a rental amongst children as well as a Parent's Choice Awardwin. The VHS was re-issued in 1994 in traditional Disney white clamshell packaging, and the film was released on DVD in 2003.
There was a slight controversy for the film, as this was thought over by people as being too scary for younger children (though it was released at a time when animated features were getting darker such as "The Black Cauldron" and "
The Secret of NIMH"), as the film featured a nightmare sequence, a scene where a blender's motor gets pulled out, the climax as Toaster sacrifices himself to save Rob (The Master) from a trash compactor, and a few swears. A number of living cars were also destroyed in the trash compactor throughout a song. Nevertheless, the film was a cult favorite with audiences. The original film has garnered a 73% rating on the reviews website, Rotten Tomatoes, [rotten-tomatoes|id=brave_little_toaster|title=The Brave Little Toaster. Retrieved March 29, 2007.] and a 7.1 rating on Internet Movie Database[ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092695/ The Brave Little Toaster on IMDB] . Retrieved March 14, 2008.] .
"The Brave Little Toaster" received an
Emmynomination for Best Animated Program in 1988. It was followed by two sequels, " The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars" (1998) and " The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue" (1999). The two sequels were released out of order; "To the Rescue" took place before "Goes to Mars".
Lampy and Radio appear as guests in "
House of Mouse".
Comparisons to Book
* In the book by Thomas S. Disch, the character of Air Conditioner is only mentioned by one of the characters. It mentions that the air conditioner died when it passed its expiration date.
* The appliances are not depicted as either male or female (to be exact they have no names) in the book. They are individually called "it". In the film version, Toaster, Blanky, Lampy, Radio, Kirby, the Air Conditioner, and all the other appliance characters are depicted as males and females, having names.
* In the book, Blanky is more fully grown, to judge by the book's illustrations of him. In the film version, Blanky is depicted as a young child.
* In the book, Radio is actually a clock-radio and has a face.
* In the book, when Blanky is stuck in a tree after being blown away, Toaster and the others ask two squirrels living in the tree for their help.
* In the book, Kirby is said to be the leader of the group.
* Another difference in the case of Kirby, in the book the vacuum cleaner's brand is "Hoover".
*The ending is very different. The Toaster and the group arrive at the Master's house, only to find the Cutting Edge appliances have replaced them. They turn out to be much kinder than they were in the movie and help the main five enter themselves on a radio show, where they are "swapped" by an old lady for several kittens that surprise the Master and his wife when they come home. The Toaster and the rest live happily ever after with a new owner.
The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue
The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars
List of animated feature-length films
*Datlow, Ellen and Windling, Terri (2001). "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror". ISBN 0-312-04450-X.
St. Martin's Press. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
*Beck, Jerry (2005). "The Animated Movie Guide". ISBN 1-55652-591-5. Chicago Reader Press. Retrieved
March 29, 2007.
*imdb title|id=0092695|title=The Brave Little Toaster
*amg title|id=1:6966|title=The Brave Little Toaster
*bcdb title|id=20642|title=The Brave Little Toaster
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