The Brave Little Toaster is a 1987 animated film produced by Hyperion Pictures, distributed by Disney, and based on a children's novel by Thomas M. Disch.The film centers on five appliances — the eponymous Toaster, Lampy (a lamp), Kirby (a vacuum named for a vacumn company), Radio (a radio), and Blanky (an electric blanket) — who live in a old cabin out in the woods. The appliances have been left behind by their Master, a young boy, and have been waiting for him to return for years. When the cabin is put up for sale, the appliances determine to go find the Master (who, unknown to them, is now a young man getting ready for college) by making a journey to the city.It should be noted side note, some of the people behind this film (such as John Lasseter and Joe Ranft) went on to go work for Pixar.The original film was followed by two sequels. The first sequel was The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars. The second sequel, The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue, actually takes place between the other two films, making it a sequel and a prequel simultaneously.
This film contains examples of:
Adaptational Villainy: In the book, the new appliances that Toaster and the others meet in Rob's apartment aren't nearly as mean as they are in the movie. They are actually quite helpful, aiding the old appliances in finding a new owner, and even a little guilty about their part in the replacement of the old appliances.
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: The balloons in Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars seemed like a giant Big Lipped Alligator Moment, right? In the book, they actually served a purpose: The balloons helped push the laundry-basket spacecraft to Mars, and one mylar balloon, who became friends with Toaster because they were both reflective, decided to accompany the group to Mars and proved to be a reasonably competent navigator.
If we want to get really specific, it's a "joint venture" between Hyperion and Taiwan's Wang Film Productions. The backgrounds, camera work, ink, paint, and most of the animation was done by WFP. Disney had nothing, zero, to do with the production. Nothing at all. See Executive Meddling.
Actually, Disney does get credit in the movie for handling the main title and the opticals.
Fox also financed some of the film (in exchange for the foreign rights). Disney and Fox later became rivals in animation.
Ambiguous Gender: The Toaster. In the book Toaster is explicitly without gender, in films one could get into minutia but really there is no clear indication either way. Aggravating as this may be to some, the movie's target audience either doesn't notice or doesn't care.
Director Jerry Rees and Toaster's own voice actress, Deanna Oliver, refer to Toaster as "she" and "her" here starting at 53:30. Can we say updated Word Of God declares Toaster is female?
In Goes to Mars, it's referred to as "him" during the "Humans" song. Perhaps his/her gender will forever be a mystery.
Kirby refers to Toaster and Blanky as "boys" and in "It's A B-Movie" one of the appliances in the shop clearly says, "You must be the new boys in town."
When Toaster is lost in the river after the failed waterfall crossing:
Argument Of Contradictions: Blanky accusing Lampy of stepping on him triggers a back-and-forth chorus of "Did not!" "Did too!" between Lampy and the rest of the group. Even Kirby the vacuum cleaner gets in on the action.
It turns From Bad to Worse during the "Worthless" scene, set in a junk yard: there's a huge magnet seeking out the toaster and crew, to throw them all into a compactor - essentially attempting to murder them as they run away from it and hide in fear for their lives. Meanwhile, it actually is throwing cars into the compactor.
To make that even worse, the cars are singing a song about how helpless and worthless they feel. Some attempt to escape the magnet, which is pretty horrifying in itself, but even more disturbing is others convey that they want to die and fully understand the concept of death, even though they are objects.
Personified hearse: I took a man to a graveyard. I beg your pardon, but it's quite hard enough just living with the stuff I have learned.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Kirby eventually loses patience with the other appliances and flat out tells them he'd be better off without them. In the next scene Toaster, Blanky, Lampy, and the Radio fall into the waterfall, leaving Kirby all alone.
Berserk Button: Don't remind the air conditioner that he's stuck in a wall.
Corrupt Hick: The toaster oven during "Cutting Edge". She has a southern accent, and offers a bit of back-handed "Southern Hospitality" to Toaster in the form of some muffins, while flaunting how much more advanced she is and zaps him a second later.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: If the appliances had simply stayed at the cottage, the Master would've have come back to get them for college. They never learn that though.
Covers Always Lie: Do. They. Ever. If you think the one above is bad, another cover for the DVD shows the main five characters and the younger master skipping down a yellow road surrounded by twinkling stars.
Dark Is Not Evil: The appliances in Elmo Saint Peter's parts shop may be broken, tinkered with, and twisted by the events they have seen, but they are by no means evil. You COULD say that they're resigned to their fate in a fairly unhealthy, EXTREMELY macabre way, however...
Darker and Edgier: The film has a significantly darker tone than the book, which is an interesting inversion to what usually happens to animated adaptations of books.
Also in comparison to the sequels.
Determinator: The magnet crane is a terrifying example of this.
In Goes to Mars, Tinselena becomes this after her Heroic Sacrifice, and decides to throw herself into the garbage can. She is ultimately saved when Chris finds her and decides to give her a makeover.
There is a literal example in the original where a green truck drives himself onto the Conveyor Belt of Doom instead of letting the magnet crane get him.
Dying Alone: There is one scene when the poor little flower realizes that it was loving its own reflection on Toaster after he runs away, and as he peeks into the bushes, he notices that the flower is losing its petals as it dies emotionally alone and brokenhearted. So disturbing... and heart-breaking!
Five-Temperament Ensemble: Lampy (choleric), Kirby (melancholic), Toaster (leukine), Radio (sanguine), and Blanky (phlegmatic).
Forced To Watch: The most logical reason for why the lamp, the only appliance in the junk shop not clearly abused/reassembled, is as insane as the rest. He got to help with most or all of the other ones. And he's a light, so he had a good view...
A quite probable explanation for the cynicism of the cars in the song "Worthless." Since most of them are in no condition to start, let alone move, all they can do is sit where they are as they are crushed one by one.
Humans Are Special / Humans Are The Real Monsters: One of the main themes throughout the films. Some humans use machines well and treat them kindly, but others are willing to toss out faithful ones in pursuit of newer models. Comes to a head in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.
Hypocritical Humor: In the third movie, when arguing about what the hearing aid is useful for, this exchange occurs:
Karma Houdini: The electromagnetic crane. It shows no compunctions against killing a human just so it can finally eliminate a few very evasive appliances, and suffers visible no consequences for doing so.
Meaningful Name: The appliance shop owner is named Elmo St. Peters—as in "Saint Peter", as in "the guy you see shortly after your death". Fitting for a man who runs a store where everything's on its last legs, and alluded to in "B Movie Show" ("You just tell St. Pete/That you got cold feet").
Also, "St. Elmo's fire" is an electrical aura that sometimes appears around pointed objects (like ships' masts) in stormy weather. So "Elmo" is a meaningful name for an electrician.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: The air conditioner (a Jack Nicholson sound-alike) and the hanging lamp (a Peter Lorre sound-alike). Of course, what did you expect, what with impressionist extraordinaire Phil Hartman doing their voices?
The can opener/lamp/shaver is an obvious Joan Rivers sound-alike, so it's only appropriate that it makes a self-deprecating quip. The reel-to-reel player is also an obvious Mae West caricature.
No Name Given: The radio's name is never revealed nor is he addressed by any name in the first movie. However, in the sequels, he has been addressed by the other appliances as "Radio".
While that does apply to the mechanic (in his defense, he's unaware that the appliances he takes apart are alive), the magnet is still pretty evil, calmly dropping a human onto the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom and all.
Put on a Bus: A very Literal-Minded example of this is the green pickup truck in the "Worthless" scene. He has literally been Put on a Bus (as in literally sitting on top of a bus) and left to rot, even though he is still in perfect working order (his engine is already running when the magnet comes for him, and he drives himself away, only for the camera to cut to him sitting on the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom, not even trying to struggle despite being perfectly capable of out-running the magnet, implying he committed suicide, averting the trope, but still implying it).
Tears of Joy: Air conditioner after the Master fixed him. AC recognized the Master and realized he was wrong about him and really does care.
Some viewers thought that those were regretful tears for doubting the Master to begin with.
And others always thought they were a reference to the beginning of the film, where we see AC's anger at never being "played with" by the Master (what with being stuck in the wall and the Master being too short to reach). Yet now the Master is all grown up and can not only reach him, but resurrect him.
It's probably all of the above.
Technology Marches On: The computers, telephones, etc. that brag about their features now sound horribly dated a decade-and-a-half later. Yet the main characters who are demeaned as 'outdated' would still all be fairly useful today.
Through a Face Full of Fur: The Air Conditioner becomes hot-tempered literally and figuratively, as he irately turns red after the other appliances offend him with mentioning that he's incapable of mobility unlike the others, and he becomes so heated he breaks down.
The Giant Magnet from the junkyard turns gold (or yellow) with fury rather than the normal red, trying to attract and collect the appliances.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Can be observed with Lampy. Near the beginning of the film, he explains his ideas of how they can travel before they're implemented, with hilarious (but failed) results. When they're trying to come up with a plan to save Radio from having his tube taken out, he simply says he has a plan — which then works.
Earlier, due to the group being distracted, Lampy didn't tell anyone he was going to use himself as a lightning rod. He just did it. And it worked.
While they aren't exactly villains, the insane machines in "Like A Movie" (aka "It's a B-Movie") do a wonderful job of showing the horror of waiting to be taken apart for spares. And they aren't bad shadow puppeteers either.
A more directly evil example is "Cutting Edge", where the new appliances sing an egotistic preview of their superiority to the main characters.
Wasn't That Fun?: Kirby throws out a sarcastic quip as the entire party is sinking helplessly into a mud puddle, with him being the first to go.
Kirby: "Oh, this is great fun! Let's make these outings a regular thing!"
You're Just Jealous: The air conditioner ridicules Toaster and the others for their optimism that their Master/Rob will come back one day. Toaster thinks its just a defense mechanism to hid the fact he's jealous of them because the Master never gave him much love as them. At first he denies it, but when Kirby points out he's stuck in a wall, his repressed rage kills him. (He's repaired later in the movie, though.)
Zeerust: Avarted with the main characters, who are based on contemporary designs of the 50's. Despite their age, they are perfectly functional and have not been made obsolete, even as of 2012 (mostly). These two factors make the main characters somewhat timeless.
Played straight with the appliances in the appartment Rob lives in. Though some of them are functionaly timeless, their 1980's designs have a more zeerust feel by modern standards. They are currently in the uncanny valley of design, essentially. It doesn't help their case that they chant about being on the cutting-edge. In song, no less!