My Little Pony: An innocent riot of colour – but why the short faces?

Feature-length update of now snub-nosed equine will appeal to kids and Bronies alike

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Film Title: My Little Pony: The Movie

Director: Jayson Thiessen

Starring: Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth

Genre: Family

Running Time: 105 min

Wed, Oct 18, 2017, 15:13

   

The overture is not hopeful. Horses, horses, horses, as Patti Smith almost had it: pink, shining, with their noses definitely not aflame, because, of course, the fourth generation of My Little Pony merchandise has opted for a furry-friendly snub-nose design over creator Bonnie Zacherle’s horsier 1981 version.

The effect sears into the retina. One late scene, featuring a flurry of pastel hooves, is like getting battered with a collection of unpopular bridesmaids’ dresses.

It’s not all bad. This feature-length version of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a TV spin-off that’s been airing since 2010, opens with Princess Twilight Sparkle in a panic on the eve of the friendship festival: “What if nobody makes a new friend?” she whinnies.

In an attempt to flagrantly abuse her divine rights, she calls upon the queens of Equestria to ensure sunshine for a festival performance by Songbird Serenade (Sia). Chekhovian shotgun on the wall noted, the monarchs refuse and Twilight returns to her fold of friends to sing a song about friendship.

And then a storm appears on the horizon, containing a bunch of aggravated, marauding hedgehog thingies, led by Tempest (Emily Blunt), a bitter unicorn general under the command of the Storm King (Liev Schreiber). The bad guys want to harness the pony monarchs’ dominion over the weather. The good guys – Princess Twilight and her squeaky-voiced friends – journey toward the hippogriffs’ kingdom seeking, um, maybe military glitter? The remaining pony population are turned into masseuses. (With hooves?)

Along the way, the friends make even more friends, including a feline flimflam artist (Taye Diggs) and a band of pirates (led by Zoe Saldana).

The Brony community – adult fans of My Little Pony – should keep watch for a pony with a hipster beard among the cheering crowd and the burly bouncer pony who appears under the end credits. Those mourning the loss of a third Sex and the City film may find compensation in lines such as “You know what they say: where there’s a city, there’s a spa.”

Mostly, however, this is an entirely innocent confection that could have easily appeared in 1981 save the odd exclamation of “I cannot even”. Daniel Ingram’s big, Broadway musical numbers are epically-produced toe-tappers. The background designs are Ghibli-inspired excellent. And Emily Blunt couldn’t invest Tempest with more tragedy and effort if she was doing an Ibsen play.