Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue (Ramirez, 1999)

From the director of Clifford’s Really Big Movie, the straight-to-video effort, The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue takes the beloved mechanical characters from the original film and gives them a film that is almost entirely without charm or inspiration. The first of many curious choices is to allow the mechanical characters to interact (in spoken English naturally) with living, breathing animals such as a cat, a rat, a snake and a monkey. Perhaps it’s silly to quibble about such intermingling in a film about a talking toaster, but this decision leads to a lack of inner consistency as we quickly fall into a thoroughly unengaging and needlessly complicated plot where we are expected to fret over both a group of lab animals and the lost thesis written by the owner of the animate objects. Apparently, the Master (as he is called) has made it 600 pages into his thesis without so much as hitting the save button. Not only has he never printed out pages to review with his advisors or to proofread himself, he presumably has never turned his computer off. Thus, the critical information is lost through a sudden electrical surge. Call me cold, but someone with this little sense deserves to miss graduation.

Needless to say, the fascinating allegorical subtext of the original film is nowhere to be seen. There is a critical moment that reprises the original’s theme of sacrifice; however, this moment is executed so awkwardly that it only serves to make us appreciate the care and tact with which the original filmmakers’ handled their challenging material. Upon watching The Brave Little Toaster earlier in the year, I immediately felt as if it was one of the most unique and powerful children’s films that I had ever seen. Therefore, I decided to at least give one of the sequels a try. True, it is not surprising that this installment falls far short of its predecessor. Still, it is disappointing to find out just how drastically it fails, even on its own modest terms.



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