Video Review

The Brave Little Toaster

That's right, a brave little toaster. Not a knight, or a prince, not even a kindly witch, but a toaster — the old-fashioned kind your mom had — chrome sides, two slides, no room for bagels. Sure the concept is nonsensical, but this is primarily for kids: Since when do they need stuff to make sense?

Nevertheless, this enchanting adventure of five ordinary electrical household appliances and their quest for companionship surely is one of the stranger story lines ever written for children. Yet it works — because of the quality of the animation, the enthusiasm of the actors who supply the characters' voices, and the charming innocence of the story, based on a novella by Thomas M. Disch.

The animators turn the toaster and his buddies — electric blanket, radio, upright vacuum cleaner, and bedside lamp — into delightful beings with enough recognizable human traits so kids can identify with them.

Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman, well known to fans of Saturday Night Live, provide voices for three characters. Lovitz is marvelous as the radio, a loquacious wisecracker and master of shtick. He's got a seemingly endless line of patter, some of which will go over children's heads but likely will draw smiles from grown-ups. One moment he's announcing a Brooklyn Dodgers game at Ebbets Field, the next minute he's signing off as Walter Winchell (''Goodnight, America, and all the ships at sea...'').

The plot of The Brave Little Toaster centers on the appliances' quest to find the young man they think abandoned them in his country cottage. The group sets off to find the man in the big city and encounters many dangers on the odyssey, including an electrical storm and a raging river. (To an appliance, these are current events.) The plugged pals later face a greedy junkman, and, in the climax, an electromagnet bent on feeding them to a flattening machine.

The toaster, however, shows his mettle — and his chrome — just in time to jam the evil machine's gears. The master and his minions are reunited, providing a happy ending to a fantasy that delivers a timeless message: Bravery and loyalty are important, even among comrades in ohms. A

Originally posted Mar 27, 1994 Published in issue #111 Mar 27, 1992 Order article reprints