'My Little Pony: The Movie'
Yes, a ‘My Little Pony’ movie exists now. This shouldn’t be surprising. These lovable magic horsies have been around for decades, and in recent years have taken off in popularity thanks to the internet’s love of connecting oddball fandoms.
Look, the movie isn’t for me. That almost goes without saying. I’m not the target demographic. I have no attachment to the series. If anything, I walked in feeling mildly irritated at the fact this thing even exists. It should come as no surprise that I came out not caring for the final product. But I also didn’t hate it as much as anticipated. I can see how this likely has appeal for many. I’m just not one of them. No matter how much I would love to proudly wear a “Brony” t-shirt in public, it just ain’t gonna happen.
Nonetheless, the movie is here and, shockingly, there were no studio demands about avoiding spoilers like the ‘Blade Runner’ sequel. This is surprising given that ‘My Little Pony’ isn’t that much younger in pop culture history and, if anything, has an even more passionate fan base. Yet somehow I can describe the new adventures of Twilight Sparkle without fear of studio lawyers coming down on me. What a time to be alive.
Anyhoo, the movie is about the big pony gang heading out of their home into a larger world. Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) is now the princess of friendship and is panicking about her responsibilities holding the Friendship Festival. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence, but let’s keep going!) Then her magical town is invaded by an army of friendship-hating baddies sent by the Storm King (Liev Schreiber). Emily Blunt voices the king’s evil pony assistant Tempest Shadow, determined to make things go wrong for all the good ponies. So Twilight and her besties are forced to leave town to find a way to stop the evildoers and… you know what… you get it. You either care about this mythology or your eyes couldn’t possibly roll farther back into your head by now. Such is the effect that ‘My Little Pony’ has on viewers.
As expected, the movie is ultimately a fable about the power of friendship. It’s all about the ponies bickering in the face of danger and tragedy, but then learning that the only way for good to win is for them all to come together and embrace those pony-riffic friendships that they all hold so dear. It’s predictable and the subject of roughly every second or third animated film geared to children. At least it’s a positive message that the movie communicates about as well as possible at this point. It’s sweet… sickly sweet in a way that can crawl up the spine of a cold-hearted cynic like myself, but the appeal is obvious. Those who get off on candy-colored positivity and inclusion will find enough of them here to make their hearts explode or whatever.
Likewise, the animation is cutesploitation done about as well as such things can be done. Traditional 2D animation mixes with CG for a mix of styles that expands scale on a level the TV series can’t. A collection of celebrity voices and the regular cast mix and mingle. It’s clear that everyone in the cast is having fun and doing the job, if not for their children, then some child in their immediate social or family circle who will appreciate it. The whole thing is harmless fluff made for the almost inexplicably large fan base who eat this stuff up across ranges of ages and cultures. Let them have their fun, I suppose.
Presumably, those who love ‘My Little Pony’ will eat up this big screen expansion of the magical, friendship-fueled world of pony fun. As someone with no attachment to the franchise and even a mild distaste for it, the movie did nothing for me. However, relative to other more manipulative and downright embarrassingly crappy animated features aimed at kiddies, it could be so much worse than this. The flick is sincere in its meager goals and even has moments of self conscious humor that suggest the creators know the limitations of this fluffy nonsense; they just see no harm in putting a little more childish cutesy animation into the world. Fair enough. I hope the Pony-heads out there love it. I just also hope they don’t love it enough that in a few years I’ll have to sit through a sequel that kills off any mild good will I’m willing to pass off today.