Yesterday it was announced that your production team would be making a live-action/CGI reboot to the Brave Little Toaster franchise. I won’t fault you for the fact that I technically had this idea over a year ago (albeit in the form of a parody ripe with unpleasant behavior and copyright songs). On a serious note, I must fault you a little for the more important fact that Jerry Rees, the writer/director of the original, had the idea to make a sequel to the movie as a “rebirth with contemporary, fresh sensibilities among people who are rediscovering it” (unlike those cash-in VHS sequels). From what I’ve heard you’ve completely cut him out of his own project. And I think in his hands, a reboot would give something relevant to the series and give the story something more to say.
But here’s why I’m really so concerned about your going-ahead with this property: I’ve seen your recent work. And I honestly believe that you think children are stupid.
I don’t think children are stupid. I think they’re impressionistic and naïve, but that has less to do with how smart they are and more to do with their lack of experience.
So as filmmakers, it’s our responsibility to hand down that experience through a medium like the movies. Not to ‘dumb it down’ or throw a 90-minute toy commercial in their faces. If children are still going to the movies, then let’s give them a real experience! Make them laugh, make them cry, make them think, let them take something away as they make the walk back to the parking lot as they assess what they’ve just seen. We owe it to the storytellers that came before us that once made us believe inanimate objects could come to life while at the same time teaching us about love and friendship and right and wrong and life and death.
Not every movie is like this, obviously (you know better than I do). A film can’t take the place of an education, and there’s really nothing terribly wrong with a film that is entertainment over aesthetic. But why can’t you have both? All my favorite movies as a kid did and they still hold up today, including Toaster. It’s a lot of pressure to know that these kids will grow up with YOUR films, to know that the movies kids see at this early age could potentially have some sort of positive addition to their growing minds and I really don’t think you’re taking it seriously.
Because you’re not filmmakers. You’re businessmen. Children’s movies mean twice as many tickets, 3D movies mean a few extra bucks for tickets. Sell the toys, CDs, t-shirts, merchandise…But I urge you to watch The Brave Little Toaster again. What is it about? Because I assure you it’s a direct contradiction to your promise of taking “specific elements we deem suitable to create CGI/live-action hybrid films with potential for licensing and merchandising.” If you had a child and they were just starting to read, would you rather them read Harry Potter or a novel-version of “Chipwrecked”?
Maybe I’m speaking out of my own personal experience. I saw The Brave Little Toaster for the first time when I was four years old. I watched that VHS tape a hundred times, fell in love with those characters, the heart and the humor throughout the entire film, I memorized every word and would reenact the movie with appliances around our house and got in serious trouble when I tried to duplicate the infamous ‘crossing the waterfall’ sequence. I forced my brother to do half of the lines and he always got them wrong. Some would say this was me being a bossy child, but looking back this was me showing early signs of what would later make me want to become a filmmaker.
Because children aren’t stupid, and there’s a power and influence behind these films that you’ll probably never understand. And for that, I feel sorry for you.
If you really must go ahead with the project, I urge you to take Jerry Rees on board to helm the film. Give him a chance. Under his vision you can make your precious money AND a product that kids can thoroughly enjoy and adults won’t want to kill themselves after the 2nd reel (don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about, I saw the Squeakquel).
But if I absolutely can’t change your mind, maybe you could leave Toaster alone and make some original content instead? Or perhaps I could give you some trashy material you could just as easily ruin by sinking your greedy claws into. Howabout “Dinoborgs”? They’re Dinos, but they’re also Borgs! They fight crime, eat ‘dinoborgers’ and, get this, they also have a band that exclusively covers One Direction songs!
That one’s on the house. Now go pee in a different lake.