My Little Pony: The Movie

My Little Pony: The Movie

2017, PG, 99 min. Directed by Jayson Thiessen. Voices by Kristin Chenoweth, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Ashleigh Ball, Emily Blunt, Tabitha St. Germain, Taye Diggs, Liev Schreiber, Uzo Aduba, Zoe Saldana, Michael Peña, Sia, Cathy Weseluck.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Oct. 6, 2017

The pastel prancers in My Little Pony: The Movie strut like 10-year-old schoolgirls, their blow-dried manes and hind-quarter appliques signifying an old-school femininity at quaint odds with other animated grrrl-power heroines today. Unless you’re already a pegasister or a brony, these fillies are an acquired taste. The second theatrical installment (31 years later!) in an entertainment franchise that began as an Eighties-era line of Hasbro toys, this ingeniously titled film features a familiar herd of characters: the squeaky-pitched Pinkie Pie (Libman), whose voice scales octaves like hooves on a chalkboard (warning: don’t bring a dog to this movie); the feisty show-off Rainbow Dash (Ball), whose spectacular aerial performance of kaleidoscopic color is a Gay Pride flag on steroids; and other members of the Mane 6, including country bumpkin Applejack (also Ball) and fashion-conscious Rarity (St. Germain), as well as the boy-dragon Spike (Weseluck), whose reptilian presence amongst these equine glitter critters is a bit of a mystery. Here, the galloping gals are on a mission led by the magical alicorn Twilight Sparkle (Strong), the Princess of Friendship, to save their homeland from the egomaniacally evil Storm King (Schreiber), encountering along the way a silky feline resembling a French Quarter pimp, an underwater seahorse princess with two pet mollusks named Shelly and Sheldon, and a pandemonium of parrot pirates enlisted to help fight the villains commanded by Tempest Shadow (Blunt), a mean-girl unicorn with a broken horn and broken heart. Inexplicably, three screenwriters receive credit for the script, which rehashes just about every MLP television episode and straight-to-video flick ever made. But die-hard fans won’t mind, as long as a color scheme of Easter egg hues dominates the screen and affirmations about sisterhood frequently resound in the language of Ponyspeak. Neigh, neigh.

The jaunty score of musical numbers (yes, there are songs) sounds vaguely familiar and yet instantly forgettable. Its only contribution to the film is to extend its running length unnecessarily by about a quarter of an hour. Once (spoiler alert!) the bad guys are vanquished and harmony again reigns in Equestria, there’s time for one more show-stopper, this time sung as an arena anthem by a pretty pony wearing an oversized bow on the back of her head and sporting a mane-cut of layered bangs that conceal her eyes. Unfortunately, she’s given only a few minutes of screen time, which will disappoint the uninitiated viewer desperate for something, anything to connect with, even if it’s just a cartoon version of an enigmatic pop star. Oh, well. Now you Sia, now you don’t.

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My Little Pony: The Movie, Jayson Thiessen

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