The Brave Little Toaster, released in 1987 as a Disney independent production and directed by Jerry Rees, sadly hasn’t gotten much love since the 90s. Based on Thomas M. Disch’s 1980 popular science fiction novel of the same name, The Brave Little Toaster tells the story of an animated toaster, radio, vacuum, lamp, and blanket, and their adventure to the city to find their master Rob. While the film opened at the Sundance Film Festival, it never secured an actual theater run, only later showing in a few arthouse facilities. Most viewers experienced The Brave Little Toaster through its broadcast on the Disney Channel in 1988. This would continue into the 90s.
The Brave Little Toaster was also released on VHS and LaserDisc beginning in 1991 by Buena Vista Home Video, and later re-released multiple times throughout the 90s. In 2003, the first and only DVD edition was released to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the film, but we have yet to see a Blu-ray edition, even after its 20th anniversary in 2007, or even its 30th anniversary in 2017.
While many other Disney films have enjoyed a release on Blu-ray in recent years, like Saludos Amigos/The Three Caballeros and A Goofy Movie/An Extremely Goofy Movie, The Brave Little Toaster hasn’t gotten the upgrade. We think its a classic that deserves this honor—so here are our top reasons why The Brave Little Toaster deserves a Blu-ray release.
Animating the Inanimate
While Toy Story has often been praised for bringing toys to life through computer animation since 1995, The Brave Little Toaster was hand-drawing objects that originally had no faces and bared little resemblance to any humans or animals in the late 80s. The skill needed to bring these completely lifeless objects to life cannot be understated, as it was a massive leap of the imagination. Putting this into practice through animation must have been some feat, and really showcases the skill of the animators working on the film, especially when considering the crushing financial and time constraints they faced in completing it.
The animation is just one side of the story—someone had to give a voice to these characters. Various exemplary actors and actresses stepped up to the plate to literally breathe life into these characters such as Phil Hartman and Deanna Oliver. In a great show of virtuosity, Jon Lovitz performed the voice acting for the radio, channeling a transatlantic accent, but also switching his tone and accent throughout the film to resemble a radio changing channels. Without the skill of the animators and the virtuosity of the voice actors and actresses, the inanimate in The Brave Little Toaster would not be believably lifelike.
The Brave Little Toaster is filled with classic tunes of the past such as “Tutti Frutti” (1955) by Little Richard and “My Mammy” (1918) sung by Al Jonson from The Jazz Singer (1927), the first motion picture with audible speech and singing. These classic tunes connect viewers with the past, and open their minds to some of the history of music and film. As a small child in the 90s, I watched The Brave Little Toaster on The Disney Channel many times, and remember hearing some of these songs of the 50s for the first time through this film. I now have a love and appreciation for the music of the past.
There are also many nostalgic loveable original numbers throughout The Brave Little Toaster such as “City of Light” and “It’s a ‘B’ Movie.” At the climax of the film, the cars in the junkyard sing the melancholic tune “Worthless” as they stare down the metal crusher and realize they have lost their purpose and are no longer worth anything to society. These original tunes really brings emotion and mood to what the appliances and electronics are facing as they strive to be useful to (but also appreciated by) their masters.
A Tale of Sacrifice
Lastly, The Brave Little Toaster is a tale of sacrifice. When the gang stops to sleep in the wilderness on their way to the city, they awaken in the middle of the night to a thunderstorm. While Blanky is blown up into a tree, the gang attempts to find it but runs out of battery. Lampy, in a moment of sheer selflessness, decides to jump on top of the battery on the chair and attempt to attract the lightning by stretching its neck out pin-straight. Lampy is then electrocuted and badly damaged through the rest of the film.
Later, when the rest of the gang falls down a waterfall, Kirby decides to leap off of the edge as well, potentially sacrificing its own life to save the others.
Finally, at the end of the film, Toaster, after seeing the Master about to be crushed in the junkyard crusher, resolves to sacrifice its own life by jumping into the cogs of the crusher’s machinery, earning his title as the “brave” little toaster. While darker than most animated films geared towards children, The Brave Little Toaster goes deeper than the surface, and decides not to tell a superficial story, but one filled with raw emotion, loss, sacrifice, and redemption.
These are our top reasons why The Brave Little Toaster is a classic that deserves a re-release. Though we may never see a Blu-ray release, you can still buy the DVD edition, as well as the digital copy on Vudu. Until next time!