Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Brave Little Toaster

3/4

Starring (voices): Deanna Oliver, Jon Lovitz, Timothy E. Day, Timothy Stack, Thurl Ravenscroft, Phil Hartman

Rated G

I remember being entertained, if not enchanted, by this little movie when I was a kid.  All these years later, I find that it's not nearly as good (for my money, if you're looking for a good family movie, "Rise of the Guardians" or anything by Hayao Miyazaki would be a much better investment of your time).  Still, I think there are enough moments here to delight kids and to make sure that their parents aren't incredibly bored.

Five appliances, the Toaster (Oliver), Lampy the lamp (Stack), Blanky the electric blanket (Day), and Kirby the vacuum cleaner, are awaiting the return of a little boy that used to play with them.  But when a mean air conditioner (Hartman) tells them that the boy moved away, they decide to set out to find him.

Admittedly, a road movie about five household appliances doesn't sound like an appealing concept, even for a kids movie.  It would be like "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" meets IKEA.  But actually, the movie isn't half bad.  It's no masterpiece ("Toy Story" took a similar idea and presented it with more humor and emotional honesty), but it's not as bad as it could be.  The "Toy Story" connection is perhaps not coincidental: John Lasseter, one of the creators of Pixar, was the original director, but Disney fired him, so he went off to create Pixar Animation Studios.

The voice acting is adequate, but few have much charisma or presence (the script has to be partly to blame, though).  The majority hail from the Groundlings improv group, but their lines are bland and few of the jokes have teeth (note: it is entirely possible for a film to have a successful sense of humor and still be entirely family appropriate...just look at "The Princess Bride").

"The Brave Little Toaster" is not a particularly good movie.  But it has its charm (pure 80's charm, but whatever), and contains moments of humor, drama, pathos, adventure, and some scares.

So yes, that's why I'm giving it a 3/4.

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