Everyone keeps trying to tell me that “Friendship is Magic.” OK, not everyone. But I have several friends that identify with the community called “Bronies.” For the uninitiated, a ‘Brony’ is generally a grown man (between the age of 18 and 35, say) who has become a fanatic for the children’s television program My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This show is, itself, a reboot of the original Hasbro-sponsored 30-minute commercials of the 1980’s, designed to sell multicolored pony figurines to little girls. Bronies can also be grown women – but there seems to be some debate as to whether women can actually be Bronies or if they ought to be referred to as ‘Pegasisters…’ These people get pretty serious – check out this Tumblr to see! But, I digress.
To be fair to the Bronies, I have been subjected to an episode of the show here and there and they’re right. It is quality children’s programming. The writing is clever. The art is fantastic!
But we can’t forget. This is a program designed by a toy company with the explicit purpose of selling their wares! Their most recent gambit is a feature-length movie that even had a limited theatrical release! It is called My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.
Every Monday night, my home is taken over by a small group of people. They eat junk food, they drink (sometimes heavily) and they play board games. No electronics allowed. It’s a great time! Two of these people (to protect the innocent), we’ll call them Patrick and Mark, just returned from Bronycon 2013 in Baltimore. Yes. Bronycon. There are enough Bronies ought there with enough buying power to justify a star-studded, annual, national convention dedicated to their hobby! Apparently advance copies of the Bluray for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls were on sale at this Con. They brought it with them and, though everyone else in the room had already seen the movie at least a couple of times, it was decided that once the board games were over, it was movie night!
As you can see from the picture above, the plot of the movie has something to do with the main character, Twilight Sparkle, becoming a human… ish..? version of herself. Basically, it’s an excuse to sell even more toys: “But, Mom, I need the Equestria Girls Twilight Sparkle!!!” “Ok Dear Child, here’s more of my money for Hasbro.”
But let’s give the movie a fair review.
In a nutshell, the ‘bad guy’ of the film, called Sunset Shimmer (really guys? just different words for Twilight Sparkle? That’s how we determine she’s the nemisis?), steals a magical crown from Princess Twilight Sparkle and runs away through a magical Stargate-like portal. Twilight follows and discovers she has turned into a… (dramatic music!) teenage girl! A bunch of generic ‘High School Movie’ (Maybe more like Middle School Movie) stuff happens, then ***Spoiler Alert*** she gets her crown back, the bad guy apologizes and Twilight goes home, just in the nick of time!
So what’s good about this movie? As a movie marketed to young girls, it is mostly good. Twilight Sparkle proves to be a resilient, strong and determined female lead. She takes a leadership role in solving her problems, and though she does seek the assistance of others, she doesn’t simply rely on them. The message that “Friendship is magic” is still strong, and they define friendship in a very positive way. The movie even addresses the somewhat exotic concept of parallel realities. When Twilight goes through the stargate-thing, she emerges into a place that is nearly identical to her own, except everyone is a human-ish high school student, rather than a magical pony. There are subtle differences. Her own doppelganger “still lives in the city,” showing that tiny changes make a serious difference. Just as with the television program, the writing and dialogue are clever and the art is still great. I’d have to say, as long as you’re being fed the right stuff (My Little Pony, Adventure Time and maybe a few others), it’s not a bad era to be a kid. Go back to some of your old shows, particularly in the 1980s… Some of that stuff is UNWATCHABLE! At least this new stuff isn’t offensively dumb.
But it’s not perfect. I think Equestria Girls still represents a major misstep for Hasbro. Look back up at the DVD cover a couple paragraphs back. Look at the humanoid Twilight. They’ve done it again. Across this entire movie. All of the high school versions of the My Little Pony Characters are long and thin. They have tiny waists. They have breasts. (actually, I think all of their bodies are identical) When Twilight meets the male protagonist of the movie, she literally falls head over heels for him. And the ultimate goal to win the day? Twilight has to be voted the Princess of the school dance. So, in spite of all the strengths in writing and character that this movie does exhibit, they’re still sending the wrong messages to our daughters. You must be tall. You must be skinny. You must conform. You must find a boyfriend, ASAP. You must be popular! Really, Hasbro? Is this the best we can do?
I don’t know… The movie was mostly forgettable – especially the Katy Perry meets Glee music numbers (AWFULLY bland!). And the lows weren’t that low! Look at Disney for a comparison. Did you like The Little Mermaid? That movie just tells girls that they need to fundamentally change who they are just to get a husband. Beauty and the Beast? Stockholm Syndrome! He’s not that bad! I can change him! Those movies are arguably damaging to children. Maybe it’s getting better, because I wouldn’t say that about MLP.
Final verdict: If you’re over the age of 13, I would not recommend this movie. It’s a bit dull. If you have children, though, it’s good for them. Just be sure they’re getting other movies with more positive messages, too! 2 out of 5 stars. Watch Shrek instead, the message is stronger, the music is better and the whole family will laugh!
OK – internet! Hate away! Can’t wait to read the replies! 🙂