My Little Pony: The Movie

Director: Jayson Thiessen
Screenplay: Meghan McCarthy and Rita Hsiao and Michael Vogel (story by Meghan McCarthy and Joe Ballarini; based on the television series created by Lauren Faust)
Stars: Uzo Aduba (Queen Novo), Ashleigh Ball (Applejack / Rainbow Dash), Emily Blunt (Tempest Shadow / Fizzlepop Berrytwist), Kristin Chenoweth (Princess Skystar), Michelle Creber (Applebloom), Taye Diggs (Capper), Andrea Libman (Fluttershy / Pinkie Pie), Britt McKillip (Princess Cadance), Nicole Oliver (Princess Celestia / Lix Spittle), Michael Peña (Grubber), Zoe Saldana (Captain Celaeno), Liev Schreiber (The Storm King), Sia (Songbird Serenade), Tabitha St. Germain (Rarity / Princess Luna / Granny Smith / Muffins), Tara Strong (Princess Twilight Sparkle), Cathy Weseluck (Spike the Dragon)
MPAA Rating: PG
Year of Release: 2017
Country: U.S. / Canada
My Little Pony: The Movie
My Little Pony: The Movie

Before I can begin writing anything about My Little Pony: The Movie, I feel I should start with a few important caveats.

Caveat #1: I fully recognize that I am far from this movie’s target demographic.

Caveat #2: I am aware of the existence of “bronies” (male fans of the television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic who range in age from teenagers to adults). I am not a brony.

Caveat #3: I have not seen a single episode of the television series from which this movie has been spun, so I was largely in the dark regarding characters, relationships, and any other pre-existing issues that might have been at stake in the narrative. According to my teenage niece with whom I saw the film and who has seen all the television episodes, this significantly impacted my ability to fully understand and appreciate what was going on.

So, with those three caveats safely out in the open, I can say that, while I appreciate certain aspects of My Little Pony: The Movie, namely its often self-aware sense of humor, its smooth integration of tween pop music, and its generally admirable message about the nature of friendship, I can’t say that I really enjoyed it. The movie’s style of animation recalls the Rankin-Bass look of the late 1970s and early ’80s (viewers of my generation will certainly sense some visual echoes of 1982’s The Last Unicorn), but hopped up on a sugary high and coated in shimmering sprinkles. The whole film has an almost manic sense of visual intensity despite its traditional two-dimensional hand-drawn characters, and it often comes across like a hyper puppy that is both eager to please and also intent on doing whatever it wants. My Little Pony: The Movie never does the cinematic equivalent of peeing on the rug, but it does jump up and down and paw you a lot, to the point that, if you’re a viewer like myself, you will soon want to push it away or go in the other room.

The plot, as far as I could piece it together, involves six magical ponies that reside in Equestria (my post-screening reading about the series informed me that this is actually the fourth generation of My Little Pony, descended from the original toyline that debuted in 1981). Each of the ponies has a distinct personality and set of magic traits; some look like regular ponies, others have wings, and some are unicorns. All of them have excitable young-female voices and act like tweens anxious about the next big thing. Their happy lives are interrupted by a villain named the Storm King (Liev Schreiber) who, in collaboration with a fallen pony named Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt), petrify severa of the princess ponies and generally wreak havoc. The rest of the story follows the six main ponies after they flee Equestria and try to find a way to rescue the petrified princess ponies and defeat the Storm King. This eventually involves a con artist cat named Capper (Taye Diggs), a race of underwater ponies led by Queen Novo (Uzo Aduba), and a group of pirate-like birds who pilot an airship.

If any of that made any sense to you or sounded appealing in any way, then My Little Pony: The Movie will probably provide a dazzling and fun-filled 100 minutes. My own experience was a bit different, although I am not ready to suggest that the film itself is a failure, as it is clearly replete with imaginative ideas, complex plotting, and a genuine sense of humor. Director Jayson Thiessen and co-screenwriter/executive producer Meghan McCarthy are both veterans of the television series, and they clearly know their demographic and are intent on delivering what they crave. It just so happens that I am not part of that demographic.

Copyright © 2017 James Kendrick

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All images copyright © Lionsgate

Overall Rating: (2)



James Kendrick

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