My Little Pony: The Movie **
Dir: Jayson Thiessen. Animation with the voices of: Tara Strong, Emily Blunt, Uzo Aduba, Liev Schreiber. 99 mins. Cert: U
The Hasbroisation of American cinema continues apace, although after the relentless din of five Transformers and a Battleship, it’s almost a relief to be confronted with something of a more bucolic stripe. Scholars of the MLP canon should be advised that this full-length animation abandons the comparatively hip Equestria Girls strand of 2015’s Friendship Games – wherein the ponies were transformed into smart-talking college students – in favour of a return to the cloud cuckoo land whence the franchise began. Thus we find earnest purple nag Twilight Sparkle’s efforts to stage the annual Friendship Festival sabotaged by underbrushed outsider Tempest Shadow – the latter voiced by Emily Blunt, who must have really, really loved these toys as a child to have wound up in this vicinity.
Get past the dizzying unlikeliness of being alive to witness a My Little Pony movie in late 2017, and it’s not unpretty to look at, with dabs of daffy humour (the Festival’s “mane event” is Sia, or a four-legged version thereof: a Sia-horse, perhaps) and Disney-aping inspirational songs that prove broadly less annoying than “Let It Go”. Still, there will have been cumulonimbi possessed of greater substance. That it’s been brainstormed in a boardroom can be observed from the midfilm diversion – not untypical of its broken-backed storytelling – into non-ponyish (but demographically desirable) pirate territory, and even its minipop feminism seems geared towards creating a fleeting uptick on some minion’s spreadsheet: a high-pitched whinny of you’re awesome, girls, now buy the product. If we tolerate this, then the Care Bears will be next.
My Little Pony: The Movie opens in cinemas nationwide today.