For those of you who have never heard of this movie before, ‘The Brave Little Toaster’ is an animated movie from 1987 (adapted from a novella published in 1982), and independently made by Hyperion Pictures & distributed by Disney. The movie is about 5 household appliances living in an abandoned cabin, who long to reunite with their “master” (a young kid who’s family used the cabin for summer vacations). After they find out the cabin is being put up for sale, the appliances set off on a harrowing trek through the wilderness, surviving as best they can despite limited sources of electricity, all while hoping their “master” still needs them and will love them.

This film was originally a project given to John Lasseter (yes THAT John Lasseter) as the first animated movie with CGI backgrounds, but Disney was really only giving Lasseter busy work while his contract ran out and then fired him immediately. Lasseter ended up producing the movie with other CalArts graduates (including Joe Ranft, who later wrote for The Lion King, Finding Nemo, & Toy Story) as an independent film. It had a slashed budget of only $2 million, but the movie did really well at the Sundance Film Festival. However, Disney still owned the distribution rights during the production, and they let it languish in non-mass-theatrical-release-hell and ended up only marketing it for home video. Because of this, the movie did not get NEARLY the amount of attention it deserved imo. It might be easy to brush off as a low budget “kid’s movie” about talking appliances, but it has really good themes and I don’t think enough people give this movie enough credit for what it tries to say. I’m going to sound like this gif the entire time BUT BARE WITH ME because I fucking love this movie and I want more people to see and appreciate it.

The film deals with themes such as sacrifice, obsolescence, fear of abandonment, & worth. The director, Jerry Rees, said in an interview that one of the main themes of the movie is “—the opposing forces of feeling like you're worthless and the joy of redemption.” Lampy sacrificing himself by acting as a lightning rod during a storm to charge the group’s dead battery, the unwanted appliances in the spare parts store accepting their fate as mere junk, Kirby (the vacuum cleaner) jumping off the cliff after everyone else falls into a waterfall, etc, are all points of the movie where these themes are reinforced.

One of the scenes that I think best supports the theme of value is the “Cutting Edge” musical number, where the new appliances that live in the master’s apartment sing about how much better they are than our main characters, because they’re newer and can be more productive. The newer appliances actually start this whole scene because they overhear the master saying how he wants to bring the older appliances to college, and get super jealous as a result. After all, why would the master care about older stuff when he has NEWER stuff? A lot of people will make jokes about this scene because all the “new” appliances are now obsolete today just like our main cast. But like. That is the point. This whole musical number was made to show how ironic this whole rat race of productivity is, because the instant something/someone new comes along, you will be thrown out just like the rest. The whole hyperconsumerism “greed is good” mentality was especially prominent in the 80s, so a song like this in a movie from 1987 was DEFINITELY a critique of the times. We see during the movie that Toaster can still toast bread, Radio still works as a radio, etc. But that doesn’t matter. They’re OLD so who cares right? Capitalism demands newer commodities and faster output all in the same of “innovation” and “productivity”. It doesn’t matter if you just do your job well, because now your job demands more, faster, and cheaper all the time. A capitalistic and consumerist society will always demand “More, More, More!”.

Another scene that I think goes even deeper into this topic is the junkyard, and the musical number ‘Worthless’. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you might have seen clips from this scene. It happens toward the end of the movie when the modern appliances chuck our main cast into the trash, and they all end up at a disposal site. If you go to the Youtube comments of any video upload of ‘Worthless’ you see a lot of people saying ‘this is why I always try to repair my car instead of junking it :C’ or ‘omg this is so dark those cars are getting crushed and accepting their death!’. But I think these people are missing the forest for the trees. Yes, one of the more blatant themes of the movie is that you should make an effort to repair rather than replace, but there’s a MUCH deeper meaning especially in this scene.