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Magic of friendship remains in 'My Little Pony: Equestria Girls'

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My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Morbid curiosity is a wonderful thing. So, sure, let’s watch My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. I mean, look at this thing. Look at it. It’s got to be a train wreck, and train wrecks are worth looking at, except this is only a metaphorical train wreck, so there’s less guilt about staring at a horrific accident where someone might have died. Nobody died because of Equestria Girls. So that’s a plus.

Besides, what if it was actually, you know, decent? I mean, it’s an hour and a half commercial for slightly creepy dolls. But I’ve been wrong before. How do you know if it’s good if you don’t try it? It might be good.

Guess what? Might happened.

A note on dolls

Spoiler alert: turns out this whole MLP:FIM thing might have been about selling dolls to little girls all along! I know, right?

Blame Equestria Girls on Barbie; before she of the plastic breasts came along, girls’ dolls were “companions” and “friends,” or something little girls could take care of, i.e. baby dolls. But Barbie, with her adult body, changed that; she became an “ideal,” something for little girls to become. The first major American ”fashion” doll, she was a runaway success. Turns out that’s what little girls want to play with, bad body image be darned; that Barbie has accessories that could be continuously updated was a sweet bonus for the dollmakers.

My Little Pony, as a doll set, is old-fashioned in that it is a “companion” doll (“friendship” is right there in this iteration’s name), with a bit of the caretaking thrown in. Obviously, no girl can become a pony, and though the Friendship is Magic line has made great strides in the art of putting dresses on horses and making it somehow not completely ridiculous, how many accessories does Applejack really need? Applejack doll

Now even Barbie is old-fashioned, because fashion evolves, and now little girls’ fashion is very different, what with the Bratz and their based-on-monsters-but-actually-slightly-less-creepy Monster High rivals; yes, they look like tramps, but these doll appeal to a little girl’s desire to be adult, and that’s what today’s adults look like to them. So, yes, Hasbro has decided to launch a new line of their own that updates My Little Pony in ways that we probably should feel uncomfortable about, and also forced an out-of-left-field storyline on the tie-in show’s writers, but that’s dolls.

What I’m saying is if you have a problem with this movie being a glorified doll commercial, that’s silly, because the show was always a glorified doll commercial. They just updated the dolls. (And if you’re wondering how I know so much about dolls, it’s because I do my research!)

The actual review

The story picks up more or less where Season 3 ended, with newly-winged Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) about to attend her very first princess summit. She is worried about her new responsibilities; she doesn’t feel ready to rule. Also, sprouting wings out of nowhere takes some getting used to.

Right there, we have a clearly defined, likeable protagonist with a clear, understandable problem. My Little Pony: The Movie, this is not.

Unfortunately for those of us hoping for an in-depth look at the pony princess political process, a mysterious unicorn steals Twilight’s crown, which also happens to be her Element of Harmony. Basically, this is the equivalent of someone stealing America’s nuclear launch codes, so the princess summit is put on hold while Twilight recovers the stolen crown. The thief ran into a magic mirror that’s a portal to another dimension; it’s open for three more days, then it’s closed for “30 moons.”

Is it anthropomorphic?

Short answer to the subtitle’s question: yes. Longer answer: If anthropomorphism is assigning human traits to non-human things, then a pony suddenly finding herself with all of the human traits is actually as anthropomorphic as it gets. So, yes.

The better question is, “Is it furry?” That one I shall leave up to the individual reader to decide according to their own personal definitions.

Not another teen movie

Twilight goes into the magic mirror a naked little pony, and emerges a teenage girl; fully dressed, thankfully. Spike (Cathy Weseluck) the dragon accompanies her, though he ends up naked on the other side. He got stuck as a dog, and is a bit calmer about the whole thing. Twilight freaks out at first, and takes a while to figure out this whole “being human” thing, which is both the set up for a series of really funny sight gags, and an actual plot point.

Turns out the thief, Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet, who also, ironically, does Twilight’s singing), lost the crown, and it is now going to be used by Canterlot High (home of the fighting WonderColts!) to crown this year’s Fall Princess. So, Twilight is now the protagonist of a teen movie; her job is to win the crown by becoming the most popular girl in school.

The movie plays the “teen movie” clichés pretty darn straight, though with a few updates. The most-popular-girl-in-the-school-despite-being-a-word-we-don’t-use-in-pony-reviews is present and accounted for in the personage of Sunset Shimmer, but in this case, she’s not particularly popular; she keeps winning Fall Princess because she ruins the reputation of her opponents, so now nobody runs against her. The scene where someone explains the different cliques is also here; Fluttershy (Andrea Libman), of all people, points them out to Twilight; though, once again, it is implied that Sunset Shimmer’s presence is responsible for the fractured school body.

Turns out Sunset Shimmer actually is a pony like Twilight; she was a former student of magic who turned evil, but escaped to this world via the magic mirror. She has set about tearing down every friendship in the school; she apparently started up the whole always winning Fall Princess thing as a hobby, but now it’s important. She needs that crown for her evil plan to rule Equestria.

Twilight meets her other friends’ human doppelgangers, but as victims of Sunset Shimmer’s manipulations, they hate each other. Exposing the truth, Twilight rallies the school behind her with the help of her new/old friends. Like any good teen movie, it all comes down to prom night (well, Fall Festival night).

Not another high-school musical

Surprisingly, this is not a musical; this is a relief after the non-stop songfest of the Season 3 finale (seriously, I think some ponies are still singing the final lousy song somewhere). There are a couple songs, but they are either in the background, or it actually makes sense why the characters would be singing – for instance, Twilight’s friends pull off a flash mob type stunt to drum up votes for her.

None of the songs, however, really stood out, though the flash mob song was probably the best of the new stuff. There was pretty nice remix of the show’s main theme for the opening credits, though.

For the fans

Admittedly, being a fan of the show, I get a lot of the in-jokes; I was in a theater with a good-sized brony crowd, and the biggest reactions were to a supporting or even background character basically just walking onscreen. As some sources predicted, there were cases of clueless parents who obviously did not know what they had just signed up for at the screening as well; they were mystified at who these people were, and why they were laughing so hard at the lunch lady.

To the movie’s credit, it rarely stopped itself to spotlight these characters; if you didn’t know who Big Macintosh was and weren’t surrounded by giggling bronies, you probably wouldn’t notice him other than as the guy who was helping Applejack carry boxes that one time; yes, he does say his trademark “Yup” and “Nope” and that’s it, but it was appropriate for the scene. The two times it did stop itself, however, were worth it (though probably lost on non-fans); the Great and Powerful Trixie versus a vending machine and the Cutie Mark Crusaders becoming their universe’s Rebecca Black were pretty good jokes.

And of course, stay for the end of the credits.

Conclusion

It’s definitely a Twilight Sparkle movie; she’s the hero, and she’s thrust into a bizarre situation beyond her control, but she never loses sight of who she is and what her core values are. Now, if I just had some sort of metaphor for how the creators of the show managed to deal with this odd marketing ploy they were given to end this review. Huh. Can’t think of one. Oh, well, I guess I’ll just say it’s a pretty good movie.

Comments

Your rating: None

I agree.
tl;dr agreed

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Yeesh. A big part of what makes the TV series appealing to the brony crowd is that it isn't about teenage girls in high school. The main characters have, y'know, jobs and things. So I'll probably give this a miss.

But "no girl can become a pony"? Hah! In cartoon-land, anything is possible. Behold a clip from Dee Dee's Tail, a fun little MLP parody from 1998, that appeared in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory. (The coffee story from the same program is hilarious.)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Actually, the characters do have jobs, though in the school. I'd actually say high school Pinkie Pie has more responsibilities than adult Pinkie Pie; I'm not sure what she actually does at SugarCube corner and half suspect her job and room there is more charity from the Cakes then actual employment.

And I almost started this review with a quote from Stephen King before I realized I had started off last review with a series of quotes from Roger Ebert, and thought fresh opinions from myself might be a nice change of pace. His writings in the Danse Macabre chapter "The Horror Movie as Junk Food" have profoundly affected my idea what it is to be a fan:

"A film like Alien or Jaws is, for either the true fan or simply the ordinary movie goer who has a sometime interest in the macabre, like a wide, deep vein of gold that doesn't even have to be mined; it can simply dug out of the hillside. But that isn't mining, remember; it's just digging. The true horror film aficionado is more like a prospector with his panning equipment or his wash-wheel, spending long periods going patiently through common dirt, looking for the bright blink of god dust or possibly even a small nugget or two. Such a working minder is not looking for the big strike, which may come tomorrow or the day after or never; he has put those illusions behind him. He's only looking for a livin' wage, something to keep him going yet awhile longer.

...

If movies such as Tourist Trap or Rituals are the nuggets fans sometimes find by sticking around for the B picture (and no one is so optimistic as the dyed-in-the-wool fan), a moment such as this one is the equivalent of the gold dust that can sometimes be panned out by the faithful toiler. Or to put it another way, there is that marvelous Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," where the Christmas goose, when slit open, yields up the beautiful and precious stone that has been lodged in its gullet. You sit through a lot of schlock, and maybe - just maybe - there is that frisson that makes it at least partially worthwhile."

Using King's classification/mining metaphor, I would say My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is a nugget; not that big a thing, but you really should see it if you're a fan. Even the bad ones are good ones if you're a fan, after all. I was being truthful when I said I enjoyed Shady and her Bushwoolie, or Likkity Split singing to the well in My Little Pony: The Movie; they were the shimmers of gold dust.

Putting myself at risk of "true fan" snobbery here, but anyone can watch the good ones; I know I'm a fan because I want to watch even the bad ones.

Your rating: None

Yeah. Like the s-f/horror movie fan Bill Warren says, "I don't want to see every s-f and horror movie ever made as much as I want to have seen every s-f and horror movie ever made. I want to be able to say that I have seen them, and to talk about them knowledgeably, even the stinkers."

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

A sound argument! I'll wait for the DVD release. Even if I don't end up enjoying it, I'm pretty sure I've seen worse. :-D

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

Don't tease... go on, how do you know so much about dolls? What kind of research is it, and does the toy store roll out the red carpet or pull out the restraining order when you come?

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My main sources were the essays "Our Barbies, Ourselves" by Emily Prager and "Barbie, G.I. Joe and Play in the 1960s" by Gary Cross. Hope that answered your question!

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I am a bit surprised that nobody has yet mentioned s-f/fantasy’s horse-becomes-a-real-human-woman trilogy yet: Doranna Durgin’s “Dun Lady’s Jess” (Baen Books, August 1994), “Changespell” (February 1997), and “Changespell Legacy” (June 2002). (See my reviews of the first two in Yarf! #35, April 1995, and #48, May 1997, reprinted in the Anthro Library.) The plot is/are completely different from MLP:EG, but MLP:EG fans should enjoy the comparison with this more serious/dramatic take on the trauma of a mare’s turning human and having to learn to function in a human world (and falling in love with her handsome human rider, since this is a woman's romance/fantasy series).

Fred Patten

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Well, if we're talking "female equine into human" fantasy stories, the gold standard is obviously The Last Unicorn.

Piers Anthony also had a unicorn-to-woman as part of a love triangle (her rival for the hero's affections was a very human robot) in his "Apprentice Adept" series (I think that was what it was called). It was a very Piers Anthony trilogy, so fun when I read it in high school, but I honestly have no idea if I would like it today.

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I am pretty much ignoring this movie's existence, canon-wise.

Why are all girls dressed like whores in the 70's?

Because whores dressed like that in the 70's.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None

its canon, fortunately they don't have it that now everyone is human or anything. the gate she used to travel through will be closed for two more years.

and you gotta admit, there is a good, simple reason why the rest of the ponies did not follow twilight. primarily people will freak out if they meet a near exact doppleganger. would be especially traumatic for fluttershies.

Your rating: None

No, no, no.

They're dressing like whores from the 2010s. There's a difference.

There is actually a funny moment where Applejack reveals a preference for longer, more traditional dresses, but fashionista Rarity insists on mini-skirts.

I also found the designs less creepy when I realized they were basically Japanese anime as drawn by Canadian/American animators; I used to actually really find anime creepily sexualized, but, you know, you either got used to it when it dominated last decades geek pop culture, or you went crazy.

I'm not always sure which happened, actually.

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And yet, everyone is dressed the same way.

Because, apparently, there is only one right way to be a girl.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None

i personally really enjoyed the movie. a good movie, though never stepping outside of the borders of good in neither the negative zone nor the positive zone. it way overused the tropes of high school, though it mostly works. short filler romance is short filler romance though.
my favorite parts are a few, the biggest is inbetween that song they had in the cafeteria, which is like ninety times better than any peprally i ever had in high school, and the ending. a lot of people question sunset shimmer's fate at the end, but i actually udnerstand it pretty well. she may have been an alpha bitch, but she did not view herself that way. she even let spike go after he was used to lure twilight to her, even though he would have been a good bargaining chip along with threatening to destroy the portal. she had a goal but she was not willing to go that far. then she managed to get the crown....... and it was plain as day that turning into a she satan was not on her checklist. she was totally shocked by her transformation, and she was actualyl crying. not to mention her behavior changed as that demoness, even willing to kill twilight when before she was nowhere near willing to keep spike hostage.
after she gets the evil knock out of her, she was obviously terrified by what she became. she said she was not a monster, but her transformation proved her otherwise. that was not what she wanted nor intended, which is why she cries at the end. she wanted power, and that was the only path she could understand.

....might be pretty easy to miss, but i saw the signs there. not willing to use spike as a hostage showed that while cruel, she was unwilling to actually go so far as to actually use a hostage. cosntrasted by her far more extreme behavior when the crown drew out the demon. afterwards she realizes that the demon was what she was like inside her heart, and she never wanted that.

Your rating: None

Just watched it, I'm surprised there was no mention on the use of wearable ears and tails by the Mane 6 as the propaganda for bridging together differences and creating harmony (oh and getting Twilight to win the padget of course).

I was like-- gee-- ears and tails signifying friendship. Are we sure bronys aren't furries? Cause the producers of this film seem to be. Obviously it's a stretch cause it's a mascot thing which is a fair thing to tie with school spirit, but as a furry watching that, kind of had to have a laugh.

And also... obsessed as all heck with mind control.

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.