255. The Brave Little Toaster (U.S. 1987)

Director: Jerry Rees

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

Art Direction; Brian McEntee

Screenplay: Joe Ranft, Jerry Rees

Novel: The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances: Thomas M Disch

Music: David Newman, Van Dyke Parks

Fact : The Brave Little Toaster Curse is particularly virulent: writer Disch committed suicide this year (2008); the gifted Hartman (the voice of many Simpsons characters) was murdered by his wife.

In one line: A group of abandoned electrical appliances go in search of their 'Master'

   

Some electrical appliances have been left abandoned in a summer cabin somewhere in New England. They are awakened by a radio who tells them of their abandonment. The five 'friends' set out on a quest to find their young master, Rob.

They meet many dangers in their long and arduous quest to see the Master. Toaster, Blankie (an electric blanket), Lampy (a lamp), Radio, Kirby (a vacuum cleaner) fight, bond, dream, have visions, get sick ,save the Master from being crushed to death and enjoy a spiritual catharsis and enlightenment which few other electrical appliances could hope to experience.

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Possibly the best toaster movie you're ever likely to see. A great, weird kids film with loads of obvious Jesus symbolism (which is the easiest way to make 'THE LIST', all you film makers who read this website 'avidly' take note) as a group of followers search for their 'Master'.

An ex-friend of mine once saw this film after taking some hallucinogenic mushrooms he'd 'harvested' from Huyton* municipal golf course and became a born-again Christian. Yes, The Brave Little Toaster is THAT powerful, so all you so-called sophisticates can eff right off if you're looking down your nose at my choice of film for the hallowed 255 spot.

Although the premise is unbelievably stupid/brilliant The BLT touches upon many darker themes (abandonment, obsolescence and death) that have since been 'appropriated' by loads of films such as Toy Story , (particularly) Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, Cars (there's a chorus of cars in The BLT) and pretty much everything Pixar has ever done. Mind you, it was Toy Story director Jon Lasseter who originally wanted to film Disch's book but studio politics prevented the realisation of his dream.

Although not as self-consciously post-modern as later animated films The BLT contains a number of clever cultural references and there are both of  'Jack Nicholson' and  'Joan Rivers'-type characters as well as an homage to Peter Lorre.

The film is a basic Joseph Campbell quest narrative with loads of nods to The Wizard of Oz, but its central ironic conceit means that it can be enjoyed if your kids are either particularly stupid or very bright. 

Average to quite intelligent kids will probably think it's shit. And they may be right. (But they're not.)

Jon Lovitz (the voice of 'Radio' - there's no definite article, so that sounds a bit 'Yorkshire') is probably best known as 'Stoned Guy' from a fairly famous episode of Friends). Ironically, he's called 'Steve' in that episode which was the name of the lad from Huyton who went all religious after hiring the video for 50p in the cheapo section of his local video store.

Hitchcock's "It's only a movie" quote was never so wrong.

7/10

*Overseas readers: Huyton is a gentrified village on the outskirts of Liverpool, Englandshire - and the birthplace of really rather terrible thesp Rex Harrison.