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YMMV / The Brave Little Toaster

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Not everyone remembers the Disch book this was based on and even fewer are aware that the sequel is also based on a book, but that's not too surprising. According to Wikipedia, Disney had bought the movie rights to the first book before it was even able to get published! It doesn't help that both have since gone out of print.
  • Adorkable:
    • Rob, the Master, is designed as a prototypical Nerd, with big glasses and a skinny body frame.
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    • Lampy is overeager and bumbling much of the time. On the way to college, he eagerly awaits all the new knowledge he'll get from the books Rob will read under his light.
  • All Animation Is Disney: This is where things get a little confusing. To make a long story short, it was supposed to be a Disney movie, but they shelved it, pushed it onto Hyperion (with Wang Film Productions in Taiwan handling most of the physical production. Director Jerry Rees and most of the American staff went to Taiwan for six months to supervise, however), then re-purchased and distributed it. The only part of the production Disney had was opticals, titles and lending out the Disney Chorus to sing on the soundtrack. Fox also financed some of the film in exchange for the foreign rights.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: In his own words, Jerry Rees, along with his small team, set out to make a film that was sophisticated enough for adults to appreciate without relying on Animated Shock Comedy-style humor, paying special attention to Character Development, using a professional Hollywood score (David Newman), and especially sound design (all of the sound effects are foley). Sadly, this trope still reared its ugly head when the film screened at Sundance and several judges told Jerry Rees point blank that it was the best film there, but they were afraid of losing credibility for giving the honor to a "cartoon."
  • Awesome Music: The entire soundtrack, from David Newman's gorgeous score to the musical numbers written by Van Dyke Parks. Also, if you listen closely to some parts of "Worthless" and especially "It's A B-Movie" you can hear spontaneous little bass guitar riffs that just make it THAT much more awesome.
    • And of course, who can forget the Radio giving the appliances a "soul injection" from the be-bop master himself during the cleaning montage? "WAMP BAMALADA B-LAMP BAM BOO!"
    • The best part of the score is arguably that it knows when to stop, as some of the most compelling scenes have no music at all.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Blankey. His child-like personality is either endearing or annoying.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • To start, there is Toaster's nightmare with the Monster Clown. It's dark, terrifying, disturbing, and it has nothing to do with the main storyline. Toaster never even brings it up again for the rest of the film.
    • Much of the scene in the meadow doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the movie, except to give Toaster an encounter that leads to much-needed Character Development.
    • "It's A B-Movie Show". It has little to do with the main story, and is mostly an excuse to make horror movie references.
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  • Cult Classic: Despite making virtually no money or impact on the general public due to how poorly its distribution was handled, it was a massively popular home video release in the late 80s/early 90s and, for many millennials, is considered one of the best animated films of its era.
  • Designated Villain: Of all of the characters who stand in the way of our heroes, Elmo St. Peters is the only one who doesn't realize what he's doing is wrong, since he has no way of knowing the appliances he's dismantling are sentient. As far as he's concerned, not only is he running an honest business, but a practical one as well. The absolute worst things he does is be slightly wasteful by cannibalizing parts from still-working appliances and lie to his customers that the parts he's selling them are being sold new. In any other movie, he wouldn't be a villain at all.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Radio, certainly.
    • Air Conditioner and the cars in Worthless seem pretty popular.
    • Some of the broken appliances from Elmo St. Peter's shop are also popular with the fandom.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Yeah, they're journeying to the "City of Light" to find "The Master". No room for overtones there.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Some parts of the fanbase choose to ignore the second and third movies.
  • Faux Symbolism: The film is rife with Christian imagery.
  • First Installment Wins: While the sequels are considered decent by most, almost everyone will say that the first movie is far superior.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: One scene in "Cutting Edge" featured a plane crashing through a building, saying "ACTUAL SIMULATION".
  • Genius Bonus: The flower which falls in love with its own reflection on the Toaster's face? It's a narcissus flower!
  • Harsher in Hindsight: While in St. Peter's shop, the others needs to save Radio from having his tubes removed. In the sequel, he removes it voluntarily as part of a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • He Really Can Act: Thurl Ravenscroft, usually known for playing broadly comedic characters in classic Disney films, really gets a chance to show off a subtler range of emotions as Kirby. As it turned out, not only could he pull off grouchiness and gravitas without a hitch, but he could even sound legitimately threatening at times.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The younger master seen in the flashback still had red hair, but also wore a orange-and-pale yellow striped t-shirt and blue shorts.
    • A character named Kirby who sucks things up, eh? (Granted, that character was probably also named after the actually Kirby vacuum brand).
    • A meta example: John Lasseter was fired from Disney for badgering them to make this film with hand drawn characters in a CG environment. which was not considered time- or cost-effective enough. A year before this film was released, The Great Mouse Detective used this exact method to huge success and it became one of their biggest assets for all of their future traditionally-animated films. And then Lasseter briefly became the CEO of the Mouse House, producing a string of computer-animated blockbusters.
    • Rob snarks to his worrisome mother that he's "not going to Jupiter," just college. Indeed, he didn't go to Jupiter, but the appliances... Well...
  • Iron Woobie: All of the Five-Man Band have survived things that no appliance should.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Air Conditioner. Sure, he's not really nice to the other appliances, but he's also deeply insecure about how his purpose for being requires him to be stuck in a wall forever, so much so that he rages himself to death over it. Heck, it's practically stated word-for-word in the movie.
    Toaster: I didn't know he'd take it so hard.
    Kirby: Well, he was a jerk anyway.
    (Glances back at AC, clearly feeling a little sorry for him)
  • LGBT Fanbase: The titular toaster has become something of a non-binary icon among LGBTQ+ fans since The New '10s, thanks to his or her Ambiguous Gender.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The electromagnet crane could probably qualify as Punch-Clock Villain, but when it continues its pursuit of the protagonists even after they were claimed by the Master, going so far as to nearly kill him in the process, all bets are off.
  • Older Than They Think: Watch Toy Story 3, and then watch The Brave Little Toaster. See any similarities?note  Several people who worked on this film would later be integral at Pixar, like John Lasseter and Joe Ranft. It doesn't hurt Pixar's logo resembles one of the main characters.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • The air conditioner. Technically he's in one more scene when the Master fixes him up.
    • The flower. On screen for less than ten seconds, has no lines, barely does anything, and it ends up being both one of the saddest scenes in the movie and the catalyst for Toaster's Character Development.
    • The Monster Clown in Toaster's nightmare has just a few seconds of screentime, but is one of the most remembered characters, for good reason.
    • The cars in "Worthless" are only sentient for one song, but it's widely considered to be the best (and saddest) in the whole movie.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The magnet crane. An angry creature from above, chasing you wherever you hide... And if you evade it, it gets spiteful.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Immediately after recording all of their lines, both Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman were cast on Saturday Night Live, where they became two of the most popular comic actors of the '90s.
    • Deana Oliver, the voice of the titular Toaster, later became a regular writer for Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. She frequently collaborated with Sherri Stoner (aka, Slappy Squirrel) on both of these shows and the two later had a steady career as screenwriting partners, penning the scripts for the big-screen adaptations of Casper and My Favorite Martian.
    • The same goes in the Latin American Spanish dub of the first film, which was one of the earlier voice acting works for Arturo Mercado Jr. (Toaster), René García (Rob) and Víctor Ugarte (Rob's younger self).
    • Ditto for the Japanese dub for both Junko Iwao as Chris and Toshiyuki Morikawa as Chat in the first dubbed version.
    • This was Joe Ranft's first gig on a feature film before he'd go on to play major parts in several Renaissance-era Disney and Pixar films. Like many of his future works, he'd serve as a writer, artist and a voice actor (his future frequent collaborator John Lasseter was, at one point, attached to direct).
  • Signature Scene:
    • The Air Conditioner self-terminating.
    • The clown for the pure, unadulterated Nightmare Fuel.
    • The tragedy of the flower.
    • "It's A B-Movie".
    • The junkyard scene and the accompanying song "Worthless".
  • Signature Song: "Worthless" and "It's A B-Movie Show" are the most memorable songs from the film.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The song "Cutting Edge" rather viciously skewers the "Greed is good," style-over-substance consumerism culture of the 1980s ("An ultra-nylon life of ease" = "A synthetic, disposable life of instant gratification").
  • Strawman Has a Point: While he's still clearly doing it to bully them, the Air Conditioner isn't wrong to say that it's unrealistic for the main characters to expect a now-grown child, whom they haven't seen in approximately ten years, to not only remember them but want to come back to them and that accepting it is easier than holding out. The fact that the Master does eventually come back to get them and that they're even reunited at all is sheer coincidence. Granted, the AC only feels this way because, unlike the others, he doesn't have an emotional connection with the Master, and his bullying is more a defense mechanism, as evidenced by how he literally explodes from anger when the others call his bluff.
  • Superlative Dubbing:
    • The voices of the Polish version, for the most part, are excellently cast. The songs are very well translated, giving the characters new dimensions and the lyrics in the latter three songs, "It's a B Movie", "Cutting Edge" and "Worthless" a Darker and Edgier feel.
    • The Hebrew version of the song "It's a B Movie" conveys a message of "Let's just enjoy ourselves while we still can" instead of all the B-Movie references. The song "Worthless" changed a lot — the 'Texan Wedding car' sings about the happily married couples she took to weddings, the hearse simply states 'I took people to the graves, I guess now it's my turn', the last pickup truck sings about 'kids that he drove to schools and how he hopes they remember him now that they're all grown up', the 'surfer car' sings about how much she loved the sunsets at the beach, and the Indy 500 race car sings "I was a great race car, they don't make them like that anymore".
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Averted in the film itself; played painfully straight in the VHS artwork.
  • Trans Audience Interpretation: The Toaster is seen by several fans as something of a trans character, due to the fact that the toaster has no identifiable gender outside of a single use of "he" (only for the director and actress to refer to the Toaster as female in outside interviews).
  • Values Resonance
    • At the time, "Cutting Edge" was more about how new media are evil and flashy, style-over-substance appliances were no match for older ones which simply did their job like the protagonists. As the decades go by and the view of hyper-consumerist, "greed is good" culture of the 1980s becomes significantly more negative due to the long-term harm of Reaganomics, creating a greater wage gap between the wealthy and everyone else, they come off as symbolic of something significantly more evil.
    • The intended satire of the cutting edge appliances isn't lost to time. With technological advancement happening faster than ever and average consumers relying more and more on technology, things that are state of the art becomes obsolete faster and faster, with some being incapable of doing their intended job without extensive, expensive upgrades (this is known as "planned obsolescence" and was a major theme in the sequel). The new appliances eventually going out of style despite their bragging was inevitable and intentional, but it's safe to bet that the filmmakers didn't know how much worse it would become in the ensuing decades.
    • Rob/The Master not only wants to continue using older but still reliable appliances instead of buying new ones, but goes to the trouble of repairing the toaster after it's most likely been mangled beyond use, just because he believes in getting as much use out of it as possible without having to buy a new one (and considering his success, he probably knows how to do that with all of the appliances, meaning they'll be around for quite a while. From an emotional standpoint, it shows he appreciates them as much as they appreciate him, but from a practical standpoint, he's wisely avoiding the vicious cycle of buying things only to eventually throw them away, thus preventing pollution through mass consumption. Today, using things like appliances for as long as they're functional or buying them secondhand is often promoted as a useful, even fun, way of undoing the negative effects of pollution (up to and including climate change), which makes Rob not only look more compassionate but more progressive as a result.
    • Related to the above entry: Rob wanting to keep and repair his old appliances continues to be an admirable trait with the concept of "Right to Repair" being a hot topic in the 2010s-20s.
    • Rob and Chris being an interracial couple without it defining them as characters. While real-life interracial relationships are significantly less taboo than they were in the past (this movie came out only twenty years after Loving vs. Virgina, mind you), depictions thereof are still a rarity in a mainstream movies, let alone animated ones.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: The titular toaster. Their voice is rather androgynous and they're only referred to by male pronouns once in the film ("Where's Toaster?" "He sank!"), though the character's actress referred to them as "she" in one interview, and the director referred to Toaster as a girl both in an interview and a Reddit AMA. This is wholly avoided in the book, where the appliances characters are all referred to as the genderless "it." Because of these reasons, TV Tropes refers to Toaster by both male and female pronouns.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The lengthy Nightmare Fuel and Tear Jerker pages will no doubt provoke this question. Not to mention the fact that it aired on Sprout of all places during President's Day 2017.
  • The Woobie
    • All five main characters. They're comparable to pets who miss their owner who children who miss their parents. Blanky especially, since he's the only one who talks and acts like an actual child.
    • The Narcissus flower. It's isolated from the rest of the forrest, the first other flower (or what it thinks is a flower) rejects it's affection, and it dies of a broken heart. Pretty effective for a character who has no lines or face and is only on screen for ten seconds.
    • The poor blender who's motor is removed by Elmo St. Peter immediately after being used, showing just how expendable the appliances in his shop are.
    • 'All of the cars in the junkyard! They sing an entire song about how they feel worthless that's literally called "Worthless."


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