A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the rare instance of a non-pet or child-based animated film. Appliances that are imbued with likable personalities and voices struggle with feelings of abandonment and obsolescence, and decide to set out into the city to find their master, the young boy who used to visit the summer cottage where they've been left. The movie has some funny moments but feels more like a journey film than a comedy, as the friends face and overcome some genuinely disturbing challenges. Appliances are dropped into waterfalls, sucked into quicksand, disarticulated, and chased by a malicious supermagnet at a dump.
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What's the story?
Is it any good?
Disney's THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER, which was written by sci-fi writer Thomas M. Disch, makes the audience root for the appliances and their plucky determination. It also opens the door to a dialogue about the disposable culture in which we live, where appliances can be dumped in favor of a newer model even when they work just fine. The animation seems a bit dated and grainy, but it somehow acts to reinforce the notion that the appliances are out of pace with their city competitors.
Visual comedy is at a minimum, though the scenes of the appliances considering different transportation modes (pogo sticks, refrigerators on wheels) are funny. Most of the humor comes from the smartly written dialogue and Radio (Jon Lovitz) runs away with all the good lines, as when he tells shorted-out Kirby to recover by making "even carpet sweeping motions!" Another nice touch is the appliances who seem to be channeling Hollywood celebrities, like the air conditioner who sounds suspiciously like Jack Nicholson. Children younger than 5 might enjoy the story but be frightened by the strong imagery -- even if it's just appliances being hurt, they're appliances the audience grows to care about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the friends worked together to travel from the country cottage to the city; What obstacles did they overcome? How did each of their skills -- Kirby's strength, Radio's navigational abilities -- contribute to them finding the master? What are some good things about using older items instead of buying new -- from an economic, environmental, and/or emotional standpoint?
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