I’ll begin by saying something I never thought possible – there is some merit to My Little Pony: The Movie. A simple story about the importance of friendship, you’ll leave the cinema with a tepidly-warmed heart.
It is nice to see a cast so dominated by women, although the fact that the film plays into some pretty heavy gender stereotypes by revolving itself around a pony princess and her gang of pastel-coloured friends does take the shine off this slightly. Ignoring the film’s entire premise, it’s not entirely unforeseeable that it could be hailed as a feminist masterpiece by future generations – after all it does pass the Bechdel test with flying colours. Even Emily Blunt’s villainous Tempest Shadow serves as a positive female role model for all the little girls around the world hoping to grow up to become evil unicorns, but the realisation that she is ultimately just the pawn of another big bad man may leave some critics disappointed.
Somewhat surprisingly there is something to be said for the film’s visuals. The flat animation, as opposed to more computerised three-dimensional shapes, is easy on the eyes, and although the scenes in the magical kingdom Equestria with its vivid cotton-candy colours are a bit much, the sections of the film set in duller locations, such as the Badlands, are more enjoyable. There are a few sequences which could be described as aesthetically pleasing.
Really the biggest problem with MLP is a lack of originality. Too many lines are at best references to something else, or at worst a straight copy. In the song ‘I’m The Friend You Need’ (yes, it is also a musical), the main line of the chorus rhymes “friend you need” with “friend indeed”. Another song is literally just called ‘Time To Be Awesome’. Clearly a 21 year-old non-brony is not the film’s target audience, but is it wrong for us to ask a little more from our children’s movies?
I would recommend seeing My Little Pony: The Movie if you need reaffirmation of the enduring power of female friendships, or you have a lot of time for horse-related puns. “Any-pony else” might get less enjoyment out of it. At the end of the day My Little Pony sits in the middle of the kids’ entertainment spectrum – not a triumph, but (disappointingly) not comically bad either.
Image: Courtesy of Lionsgate and Hasbro