By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Introduced in 1982, Hasbro’s My Little Pony line of toys would endure through different iterations and multiple generations of children and fans. The popularity of the toys inspired some TV movies and a couple of animated series. The more recent program, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, would prove to be its most popular program and has gained itself quite a following of fans from multiple demographics. This fourth generation program directly inspires this sweet and entertaining feature film which has a great voice cast and offers some valuable lessons to children.
In the magical land of Equestria, Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong), the princess of friendship, along with her friends and colleagues prepare for a major celebration. As everyone rushes to put the finishing touches on the decorations, eats, treats, and drinks, a band of warriors led by angry unicorn Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) attacks the festivities and attempts to imprison everyone to make way for the Storm King (Liev Schrieber), whose plan involves conquering Equestria to channel its power for his own nefarious uses. Twilight Sparkle and her friends, the other “Mane 6,” manage to escape and seek out help from other lands. Along the way, they encounter wild card con artist Capper (Taye Diggs) and a band of pirates led by Captain Celaeno (Zoe Saldana) who might actually be of some help in defeating Tempest Shadow and the contemptible Storm King.
Written by Meghan McCarthy, Rita Hsaio, Michael Vogel, Joe Ballarini, and directed by Jayson Thiessen, My Little Pony: The Movie might have a very transparent plot to parents and adults, but young children should find the entire affair exciting and fun. Child fans of the show should definitely eat up all of its saccharine goodness, and have a great time in the process. Not all of the humor works well, but that is my perspective as a mostly uninitiated adult. At the screening I attended, though, I heard plenty of laughs, “ooohs,” “ahs,” and “awws” during the whole movie. Parents and adults escorting children to the movie should find the film watchable and, thankfully, not frustrating and irritating.
As I stated above, the movie does offer some valuable life lessons to children. The value of friendship, overcoming one’s fears and pain, and adjusting to the blows life often delivers are just some of the messages of the story. Redemption and forgiveness also play big roles in the film, as well as the ability to find beauty and greatness in people and things that are different. Parents should appreciate that the film doesn’t just consist of mindless entertainment, but actually has something good to say.
Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Taye Diggs, and Zoe Saldana all give splendid voice performances as their characters. The movie also features funny and enjoyable voice work by Michael Peña, Kristin Chenoweth, Uzo Aduba, Sia, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck. Rebecca Shoichet lends her singing voice to the character of Twilight Sparkle. The movie also features an assortment of fun and catchy musical numbers the kids should enjoy.
So even though I am not a major fan of this toy-inspired universe and knew very little about the characters going into it, the kid in me actually managed to enjoy this movie overall. It isn’t necessarily a movie that I would watch again and over and over, but for a one time viewing it was fine. Parents should have no qualms whatsoever taking their children to this movie which has much heart and love to offer. There’s enough hate, fear, and violence in the world right now to jade the pure hearts of children as they grow into adulthood. This movie and apparently its television show shine much brightness and love into the world, which is something we could all use right now.