Note: After reading his review of “My Little Pony: The Movie,” the author invites you to learn more about “Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey into Joy and Healing,” a new book that compares the writings of C. S. Lewis with the music of U2 in a life-changing journey through grief, joy, and longing for God. Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
First things first: I am not what they call a “Brony.” I do, however, have a daughter who adores the ponies, which means the show and its seven seasons have been on repeat in my house ever since it appeared on Netflix.
I will admit one thing: I do enjoy the show from a safe distance. The modern version of “My Little Pony” has great writing and music. It’s consistently funny in ways that adults can quietly appreciate in the background in addition to the kiddie humor. The characters are delightfully inventive and funny (Maud, for example, one of my favorites) and the storylines are creative.
And–most importantly–it has a cameo by Weird Al Yankovic as a pony called Cheese Sandwich. That alone won me over to at least enjoying the show when my daughter would watch it.
And from the perspective of a father and a Christian, I didn’t have any problems with the new movie that hit theaters. It has some great lessons for kids, a creative plot, some humor and some gorgeous music. It also has some big-name celebrities making appearances as new characters.
(Observations) Entertainment Value and Film Craft
My daughter (a kindergartner) says the following about why this film is great:
- “I really like Pinkie Pie when she bursts with joy”
- “Songbird Serenade has really beautiful singing and a deep, really beautiful voice”
- “I really like the song ‘One Small Thing’ when the ponies become mermaids”
- “Tempest Shadow’s song ‘Open Up Your Eyes’ has a melody that’s really beautiful”
- “It’s really creative how Rainbow Dash calls it a Sonic Rainboom.”
- “Twilight Sparkle is my favorite character and also Princess Celestia because she is really powerful and rules the world and defeats the villain like God.” [We were having a discussion about God’s power and she was relating it back to the film.]
The film delivers the clean, sparkling color palette of the show’s animation to the big screen and adds the shifting 3-D-like animated landscapes you’d expect in a big screen treatment. It has fantastic celebrity-voiced characters featuring Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana and Liev Shreiber besides the much loved cast of pony voice actors from the TV show.
And the music really is fun and in some cases epic and beautiful. Tempest Shadow’s brooding anthem is a highlight for sure and Sia’s appearance in the film means another instant classic from Sia with her song “Rainbow.”
(Interpretation) Worldviews, Deeper Layers of Meaning, Edifying Themes
This movie, while it does have an approach to humor that adults can appreciate, really is for kids. And it is for kids in the best way: meaning it doesn’t push the quibbles from the grownup world (like sneaking in political issues or something) into the movie, which sadly has been happening more and more with animated films in recent years. “My Little Pony: The Movie” is a genuine escape from life as you venture into their colorful, songful world, and it’s a fun journey.
It’s a kid movie, sure, but it brings some deeper themes. For example, it has an underlying theme of redemption-through-forgiveness (through reconciliation between an outcast and her former community) in Tempest Shadow’s storyline, arguably the most gripping thread in the plot, and her brooding darkness provides the perfect counterpoint to the pony cheeriness. It shows how evil can spring from our deepest wounds–i. e. when we try to cope with traumatic brokenness in our lives by getting revenge and inflating ourselves over others, we produce evil. But when we find reconciliation and forgiveness, the “tempest” and the “shadow” can be driven away and replaced with hope and light.
Conclusion: Shine On My Little Ponies
It’s refreshing to find an earnest, simple-hearted kids film like “My Little Ponies” that hits all the right points–great animation, funny characters, memorable songs and storylines–and teaches some meaningful principles to children at the same time.
Content advisory for this film…
Sexual Content/Nudity/Themes of Sexuality: None.
Violence/Gore/Scary/Disturbing Content: A filly (young pony) is sliced in the face by a monster and suffers a scar and wound to her horn. It’s not “graphic” but it’s a little intense in a PG way. A dark, monstrous storm strikes Equestria and it is a bit scary and intense. The villain falls to his death when he is turned to stone and then falls and shatters into pieces. The minions of the villain attack and fight the ponies of Equestria though it’s all slap-stick and no bloody fighting. But the minions are big and scary looking.
Language: The word “booty” is used when referring to someone’s bottom.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: A mug of cider is vaguely implied to be alcoholic as it is causing ponies to act a little silly.
Note: The parental guidance content advisory is written from a Christian worldview. I am a person of faith with orthodox Christian beliefs like those expressed in “The Everlasting Man” by G. K. Chesterton, “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis, and “The Pursuit of God” by A. W. Tozer. That being said, I do not believe that the depiction of evil, even graphic depictions of evil or negative themes in films, is in itself always immoral. I believe it depends on the context and the worldview behind the film’s depiction of evil. All that being said, I try to report the content that gives the film its rating so that you can make an informed decision about viewing the film. Some people need to know detailed information about the content, some do not, in order to make a decision. I try to provide enough detail to give you a sense of the nature of the content. If you need more detail to make a better decision, I recommend visiting PluggedIn.com, as they provide extremely detailed reports of a movie’s content.