The Brave Little Toaster is a movie I never expected to end up somewhat enjoying. My buddies told me to watch it because it was really awesome, despite the fact that there was a preview on one of my sister's Disney movies I found a little too cloying and a major turn-off. So, to see if they were right, I actually watched it on YouTube. And although it's a good movie, despite the cutesy cover art and title, it's not exactly what I'd call cheery. In fact, it's one of the darkest movies ever produced.
The movie starts off as cheery as the title and cover promise with a group of cute little appliances (does Kirby count as cute?) going off to find their old Master, but quickly gets more edgy as you delve deeper. Lampy, for instance, gets struck by lightning and Air Conditioner gets so angry he rages himself to death. (Which is possibly his way of committing suicide.) Although you needn't worry-he gets fixed by the end of the movie, and Lampy survives, but it's not the best way to start a movie aimed at kids 4-10. Later on, we meet a mechanic named Elmo St. Peters who actually rips the motor out of a sentinent and quite adorable blender for one of his customers. Since all the appliances in TBLT world are alive, that means the poor blender is, too, and having his motor taken out is like having his heart taken out. Not to mention the fact that motor oil leaks out of the "wound". Mechanical blood, I presume? So, since the poor little guy gets killed, Toaster and his pals want to escape immediately. Then, a Hanging Lamp, shortly after giving Lampy his lightbulb, explains to the gang that there is no way out and everbody will be spliced into a hybrid appliance (such as a mishmash who is part lamp, part can opener, and part shaver) or ripped up like the blender. During this scene, a female tape player with an uh, spinning chest hops off her shelf and flirts with them and another tape player pops the eyeball off the fan next to him, as well as a shadow puppet that looks like a dagger being thrust at Lampy. This might be a little scary for some kids. They DO escape Mr. St. Pete along with the other guys (and in the case of the mishmash and tape player, girls), thank goodness-but that's not the end of the journey. Back at the Master's apartment (he's going off to college) they meet a bunch of "modern" appliances, and then a big fat lamp named Plugsy flings them into the Dumpster for not being modern like he and the others are. The Dumpster is a direct pipeline to Ernie's Disposal, a scrapyard that's just as bad-nah, worse-as Mr. St. Peter's parts shop. In the scrapyard lurks an evil junkyard magnet who wants to destroy everything he sees. There are hundreds of doomed junk cars who want nothing more than to be out on the road with humans again, but all of them will end up being killed by the car crusher that the Magnet takes his victims to. A blue car and a pink car are the first to go, and they basically tell you that they feel really worthless and like they've given up on their dreams. Next, a cool red muscle car (from KC Missouri) tells us that he basically loved cruising and traveling everywhere, and still had a shard of dream left. Then he gets killed, too. The whole movie long, appliances are telling us that some humans are cruel to them and don't care that they can talk, and the last reference to that comes from a sad little Indy 500 racer who tells us that he thought of himself as a winner despite not knowing where he ranked. We can only figure out that he was probably third place or lower in the race, because he wonders how close he got to winning and feels uncared for because he was scrapped because he maybe lost his first race. But he still sounds like he wants to be in another Indy and win this time. His dreams are squashed with him in the crusher, alas. Then, we meet a wedding car who's all decorated with a nice pair of bull horns. She took a Texan to his wedding, which sounds okay at first, but informs us that he was unhappy with his marriage. Uh oh. Given that information, guess which kind of car do we meet next? Yep, that's right, a big black hearse. As you can expect, he carried a dead guy to the graveyard. Therefore, the fact that they were smashed together implies that the Texan guy had gotten in such a bad relationship that he committed suicide after that wedding. The wedding car drove him there, and then the hearse took him to his grave. And to top it all off, that Wedding Car said his thoughts turned to home, meaning that he was probably marrying again since his old wife died and felt like he just couldn't be happy with another girl. Hearse probably became pretty traumatized over time because his job was to take dead humans to their graves. Seeing dead people like that probably gave him disturbing images of death, and he never forgot what he saw. Or, he felt like since he'd seen so many dead people he forgot about his own mortality and it came to him as a surprise that he'd get crushed. Ugh. Shortly after, we meet a woody wagon with a shark-mangled surfboard on her roof who tells us that she loved going to beach parties with the surfer who drove her. She feels that if she could only be back on the beach in California rather than being left to die at Ernie's, she'd be happy again. Worst of all is the last car, a pickup that formerly belonged to a Hopi reservation. His driver told him to his face that he was worthless and junked him, despite his being in near perfect condition. The Hopi Native Americans from his reservation all left him for Santa Fe and his job, to basically take the kids places, was given to a bus, who ironically is stuck in Ernie's with him. To make his situation worse still, he actually SUICIDES in the crusher. Oh my gosh. The cars being crushed can really drain the happy from you, because you want them to win. You want them to live. But you know they can't escape, because they have busted engines or missing wheels or whatever. They have backstories and are basically like people. They actually represent people society thinks of as "worthless"-the blue car represents a "blue collar" worker, the pink car is a once-beautiful model who's getting older, the muscle car is a drifter who has no home, the Indy 500 racer is an athlete-or in this case, a race car driver, who has an injury/disability and fans no longer support them, the wedding car is a bridesmaid/groomsman and the hearse is the undertaker/pallbearer, (roles in their respective celebrations that are extremely forgettable) the woody wagon is an aspiring surfer who never turned pro, and the reservation truck is Native Americans in general-despite being America's first human inhabitants, are often thought of as not important.
Not to mention the flower and the scary clown. That clown throws KNIVES at the toaster and he chases him all over the place. Then, he says "Run!".
The movie is balanced out by lots of cute humor and Blanky. (Gotta LOVE that blanket!) But kids may not be able to handle dark stuff, so you'd have to understand how easily scared your kids are by showing them this. It does have a nice message, that people shouldn't be looked down on becuase they aren't as up-to-speed, and that it's OK to use your 50-year-old toasters and stuff. Yet, the animation isn't so hot and it has a surprisingly huge amount of suicide for a kid movie. But hey, always gotta be some cons, right? So, grab some buddies, a plateful of buttered toast, and your cozy electric blanket for this good but morbid movie!