REVIEW: Shocker—‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ is as bad as it sounds

My+Little+Pony+Poster

My Little Pony Poster

Benjamin VanHoose

Surprisingly, it was actually pretty good — just kidding.

From start to finish, “My Little Pony: The Movie” is exactly as unbearable as you could imagine. Well, I guess I shouldn’t condemn the entirety of the film (I did happen to doze off briefly toward the middle), but I’m willing to bet the parts I slept through were equally abrasive.

I’ll do my best to summarize the plot to the movie, but forgive me if I pause to gag. I am, after all, still detoxing from all the glitter and cheeriness.

Set in a colorful utopian world of talking unicorns who control the weather with their magic, plans for a festival are put on hold when an armada of bad guys seeks to literally rain on their parade by bringing thunderstorms to their village. A band of runaway ponies go on an adventure to save the day, encountering a sly cat and parrot pirates along the way.

Oh, and at one point the characters temporarily transform into mermaids.

Despite having four writers credited to its screenplay, the story for “My Little Pony” is generic and derivative of the adventure flicks seen by audiences a million times. No amount of bright colors or cutesy designs can mask its blandness.

Like most movies based on popular television properties, this is a musical, using unnecessary songs to pad out the theatrical run time. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint the worst aspect of “My Little Pony: The Movie,” the musical numbers are top contenders.

Every time the soundtrack cues a character to burst into song, it’s a challenge to refrain from rolling eyes and covering ears. If my life depended on it, I could not tell you what any of the songs were called; each is less catchy and more formulaic than the last.

I know what you’re thinking: “Ben, you’re a college student about to enter the adult world — you’re not the target audience for ‘My Little Pony.’”

For my public embarrassment and agony of purchasing a ticket to this rainbowy dumpster of a movie, I blame the 184 Twitter voters who determined my movie-going fate.

Other new release “Blade Runner 2049” would’ve been a much better experience, I’m sure. Heck, I would rather have endured the snowy Kate Winslet/Idris Elba romance “The Mountain Between Us.”

Still, I’m not opposed to enjoying an animated children’s movie. Just because a movie is aimed at a younger audience does not mean a free pass is given to pander or be lazy.

Some of the best kids’ movies have something to offer for the adult viewer as well, whether it be resonate subplots, relatable characters or clever humor that goes over the little ones’ heads.

“My Little Pony: The Movie” has none of those things, which is why I have to hope the two grown women a few rows ahead of me — the only other people in the Thursday night screening — paid to see it ironically.

The most baffling part about “My Little Pony: The Movie” (aside from the fact that it made it to the big screen) is its star-studded voice cast. Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Zoe Saldana, Liev Schreiber, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba and Michael Pena all lend their vocal talents.

I understand actors want to make a movie their kids can enjoy, but can’t they wait until the proper Pixar project comes their way, or at least something with a little more clout?

At least someone gave the queen of film soundtracks, Sia, a character in the movie. The singer — who has written original songs and performed covers for 16 movies since 2013, including “Wonder Woman” and “Finding Dory” — voices a performing pony with a mane of face-hiding hair to match the artist’s real-life hairdo.

If I had the patience to analyze “My Little Pony: The Movie” deeper, I suppose I could probably grapple to find commentaries on misogyny or racism, but I’d rather not spend more time pondering these ponies.

 

“My Little Pony: The Movie”

  • Rated PG for mild action
  • Starring Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana, Taye Diggs, Michael Pena, Kirstin Chenoweth, Sia and Liev Schreiber
  • Directed by Jayson Thiessen
  • Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
  • You’ll like this if you liked: “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “The Emoji Movie,” “The Care Bears Movie”

It only took 20 minutes of the movie for me to break the unspoken movie-lover pact, pulling out my phone to check the clock. Don’t tattle on me to other cinephiles, but my phone screen lit up more than once during the movie to give myself a time check.

Something wasn’t sitting right with me from the moment the movie began, and I don’t think it had to do with the three blackened shrimp tacos from Fresco I hastily ate in the car before entering the theater. (Don’t judge — I was hungry, running late and, being the responsible critic I am, didn’t want to miss a minute of the movie.)

What made me most nervous about my introduction to the “My Little Pony” universe was the disturbing thought that I might magically be converted into a “brony,” the passionate adult demographic consumed in the “Pony” fandom.

By the way, there used to be a Brony student organization on campus. Seriously.

Thankfully, I didn’t pick up on what so many unapologetic bronies love. Perhaps to be won over, I would need to watch the TV series or other iterations of the franchise. But no thank you.

The only thing keeping me from giving this movie an “F” is the fact that a team of people worked to create this. People spent hours of their lives coloring and shading these cartoon ponies, and there must’ve been an entire team designated solely to animated glitter effects.

But an “A” for effort is pushing it. “My Little Pony: The Movie” will have to saddle up for a bright, glittery “D-.”

Grade: D-

Benjamin VanHoose is the entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected]