This happened — don’t judge me.
At the capital city of Canterlot in the Land of Equestria, the Friendship Festival is getting underway. Princess Twilight Sparkle (voice of Tara Strong) and her friends Applejack and Rainbow Dash (voices by Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie (voices by Andrea Libman), and Rarity (voice of Tabitha St. Germain) are all in attendance when a fleet of dark airships led by the renegade unicorn Tempest (Emily Blunt) demands the unconditional surrender of the ponies. In typical fashion, the “mane 6” escape on an adventure to save everyone… with friendship, of course.
Reboots and reworks have become go-to fall-backs for Hollywood and television when the take-a-chance well runs dry. Once in a while, however, something is reinvented so well you have to wonder why no one thought of it before. Say what you will, but “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” updates the old 1980s toy-selling show into a world-building pop-culture celebration of positive themes and fun personalities. While just fine for kids, the creators know adults are watching and balances the two seamlessly. With the ever-present push into theaters to cash in on success, can a movie-length episode of the beloved TV show avoid the overstuffing pitfalls of a celebrity voice cast and mainstreaming the story line for new viewers?
Anyone in a pop-culture fandom need only watch a single episode of the new “My Little Pony” to get how clever it is, even if it isn’t your cup of apple cider. While the usual increase in budget allows better animation and more special effects in a magical fantasy world, it happily kept the principle voice cast intact, many of whom have film experience anyway. There’s a bit of dumbing down and a few more songs than usual — showstoppers, of course — but fans old and new should be entertained as long as they’re old enough to pay attention to what’s happening on the screen.
Emily Blunt’s Tempest isn’t the only celebrity voice, either. Michael Peña and Zoe Saldana lend their voices along with Sia as singer Songbird Serenade and Taye Diggs as confidence cat Capper. Liev Schreiber can finally take his kids to see a movie he’s in as the voice of The Storm King — a villain, of course. None of these are especially small parts, but neither do any of them take away from the Mane 6.
Okay, fine: this is targeted primarily to younger girls — who doesn’t want a talking pony? But the movie like the series doesn’t pander to the idea that all of the principle characters are female, they just happen to be filles and mares. They have their own skill sets, their own hangups, and their own interests, but they’re all friends together. Seriously, how bitter are you if you’re hating on this? It’s fun; lighten up.
My Little Pony: The Movie is rated PG for mild action and serious friendship overload.
Three skull recommendation out of four