What would most My Little Pony fans want from the makers of a My Little Pony movie? You could follow Spongebob Squarepants and The Smurfs into a live action adventure bringing the ponies into the real world… you could change the animation style to full CG… but we reckon what kids would really want is to follow The Rugrats Movie model: a full-length movie with the animation style and voice cast of the TV show, but in an adventure too big for the small screen, and with a few new characters and a couple of bona fide movie stars thrown in. Happily, that’s exactly what director Jayson Thiessen (Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks) delivers with My Little Pony: The Movie – and it’s terrific.
In Equestria, where the inhabitants are adorable little pastel-coloured ponies and friendship is magic, the stage is set for the Canterlot friendship festival – celebrity chanteuse Songbird Serenade (Sia, wittily hidden behind a stylishly fringed mane) has even arrived to sing at the event. But then Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt), a unicorn with a broken horn, a bad attitude and a quisling sidekick (Michael Peña), shows up to rain on the ponies’ parade. Tempest has struck a bargain with the Storm King (Liev Schreiber), who promises to fix her horn if she agrees to enslave Equestria, and it’s up to Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Applejack (Ball again), Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong), Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman) and Fluttershy (also Libman) to break the evil spell by travelling on a quest to the land of the Hippogriffs. There, they meet Queen Novo (Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba) and her daughter Princess Skystar (Kristen Chenoweth), who delight tweenage girls the world over by turning the plucky ponies into mermaids, before deciding whether or not to lend a hoof to free the enslaved inhabitants of Equestria.
There’s lots to like about My Little Pony: The Movie, before the colourful, squeaky-voiced capering and cantering of everyone’s favourite pastel ponies. Emily Blunt is deliciously evil as Tempest Shadow (whose real name turns out to be something a lot more hilariously twee), and Liev Schreiber makes the most of his villainous role as the Storm King, who is designed like a classic Scooby-Doo villain, and makes fun of the ponies’ penchant for friendship, magic and other cutesy-poo stuff. There are a few downsides, too. The songs (there are about six in all) are not exactly taken from Disney’s top drawer, and there’s not a lot here for grown-ups – it’s not one of those films that panders to the parents – but for tots and tweens, My Little Pony: The Movie is 99 minutes of colourful, infectiously good-natured fun that’s sure to be played on a loop when it comes to DVD.
Is My Little Pony: The Movie a Good Movie for Kids?
My Little Pony: The Movie has the usual good things to say about the power of friendship, sticking together through thick and thin, and looking out for your friends. But there’s also a scene where the ponies get led astray by someone promising to help them – and get a valuable lesson in not trusting strangers, no matter how charming they are. And later on, one of the ponies does something bad (trying to steal the magic pearl) in order to help her friends, and finds that the end doesn’t always justify the means.