The television show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is adorable and charming, combining unrelenting cheer with positive messages about acceptance, teamwork, and friendship. The cutesy voices of the ponies are fitting for the brightly colored cartoon, and the plots are easily resolvable within 22 minutes and usually take no more than hugging a villain who is only a villain because they’re a sad and friendless outcast. And since it is a half-hour television show, the pacing is swift and attuned to its intended audience of very young children. None of this translates to the film, which is a ceaseless nightmare of forced merriment.
My Little Pony: The Movie begins with a short film about a space-child who lives on the moon and spends her time attempting to drown her space-bunnies in a rainbow lava pool. It is indescribably mad. Then the actual movie begins, and if only it was even half as mad as the short that precedes it, then maybe it would be something worthwhile. All the ponies are here: Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash—AKA The Best One—Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Spike the Dragon. There are some new celebrity ponies, including one voiced by Sia, and Tempest, the bad pony, voiced by Emily Blunt. Wait, Emily Blunt? As in, THE Emily Blunt? Yes, Emily Blunt voices the bad guy in My Little Pony: The Movie. Liev Schreiber voices Tempest’s monster-boss, a yeti called the Storm King; Michael Peña voices Tempest’s henchman; and Uzo Aduba, Kristen Chenoweth, and Zoe Saldana are on board, too. I assume the paychecks were good.
For a TV show stretched to feature film length, MLP: The Movie feels like a TV show stretched to feature film length. The movie itself is only about ninety minutes but it feels like ninety years. The little girl sitting in front of me grew up and graduated college during the time it took to watch this movie. The pacing is TERRIBLE, entirely because there is only enough plot for a 22 minute episode of television. Twilight Sparkle is putting together a friendship celebration, but the party is crashed by Tempest, who is stealing princess pony magic so her Yeti-boss can have a magic wand.
I don’t mind how dumb this is because it’s meant for child brains, but I do mind how this is not enough story to fill 90 minutes. The thin story is padded out with songs, which are uniformly forgettable, and “jokes” that amount to nothing more than three characters saying, “Hungry…hungry…hippos,” and then pausing for laughter that never comes, a metaphor for life it’s probably best young minds absorb as soon as possible. Maybe this would all be more tolerable if the movie was at least something to look at, but despite the colorful world of the ponies, the animation is flat. It literally looks like a TV show blown up on a big screen, and nothing more.
And the voices. Dear god, the voices. Pinkie Pie is UNBEARABLE. The voiceover actress, Andrea Libman, is just doing what she does, it’s not her fault—it’s the writers (Meghan McCarthy, Rita Hsiao, and Michael Vogel) for giving Pinkie Pie so much to say. With longer exposure, Pinkie Pie’s voice is unendurable. While the little girl sitting in front of me was delivering her valedictorian speech, her mother’s brains were leaking out her ears, liquefied by the piercing frequency of Pinkie Pie’s voice.
My Little Pony: The Movie is not meant to be viewed by anyone over the age of five. It’s not insane enough to be entertaining, and it’s definitely not funny enough, as there are no real jokes anywhere in the movie. What works as a half-hour TV show does not translate to a feature film, and the charm of the show is lost. Perhaps it will be satisfying to hardcore fans of the show—and Bronies—but it will satisfy no one else. Or perhaps this is the lesson of My Little Pony: The Movie: Everything you love as a child will eventually disappoint you.
Attached - Uzo Aduba at Glamour's The Girl Project yesterday.