CREDIT: Lionsgate/Hasbro

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck, Emily Blunt, Michael Peña, Liev Schreiber, Taye Diggs, Zoe Saldana, Kristen Chenoweth, Uzo Aduba, Sia

Director: Jayson Thiessen

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Rating: PG for the Stone Hearts and Warped Magic of Cartoon Villains

Release Date: October 6, 2017

There’s a contingent of young adult (mostly) male fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV series who go by the moniker “bronies.” Some might suspect irony in this demographic’s devotion to a cartoon about unicorn ponies, but everything I know about them indicates that they are completely genuine. As I am curious enough to check out any show meant to appeal to demos completely different than mine, I once upon a time wondered if I too might become a brony. So I watched an episode of Friendship is Magic several years ago, and … I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. But with a movie adaptation on the horizon, and with me as someone who is professionally bound to sample every wide release, the ponies stood another chance of hooking me into their fold.

Alas, after catching My Little Pony: The Movie, I must report that I still remain unconverted. But I suspect the fandom will be pleased. Normally when reviewing something, I keep every possible audience in mind, but MLP should not be faulted too hard for catering to one crowd in particular. It has no desire to expand its appeal with the self-awareness of DreamWorks, or the adult themes snuck into Pixar’s childlike wonder, or the anarchy of Despicable Me. Furthermore, the plot is simple, straightforward, and archetypal: the heroes make a bunch of new friends on a Campbell-esque hero’s journey, and the villain is not evil so much as misunderstood. While I would be more impressed with My Little Pony if it were more ambitious, there is something to be said for easy-to-understand positivity.

For those looking for some distinct personalities and imaginative flourishes, there are some  pleasures to be had. Emily Blunt is positively purring as Tempest Shadow, a heavy metal-influenced purple unicorn who threatens to ruin the good vibes of the ponies’ homeland of Equestria. Then there is Taye Diggs familiziairing everyone with the message of the beatniks in his voicing of hepcat humanoid feline Capper. The color palette is relentlessly bright, which certainly earns my favor, but for those who like it a little darker or at least subdued, it is still impressive how fastidiously each shade of the rainbow is woven together. In total, MLP: The Movie does what it sets out to do.

My Little Pony: The Movie is Recommended If You Like: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Unikitty from The Lego Movie, Parent-child bonding time

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Hippogriffs