My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) — The definitive animated movie of the ’80s

“Ponyland is turning dark, dank, and dreary! The little ponies are doomed!”

Justin’s rating: My Little Pony 2: The Glue Factory

Justin’s review: Fun little story. So I’m sitting at my computer on March 31st, trying to think of the girliest movie to post as a fake front page link for Al to “review.” I go through several iterations — How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The First Wives Club, Crossroads — and then I muse that there has to be a My Little Pony movie somewhere. Sure enough, there is. And before I can start cutting and pasting graphics, a little demented voice in my head goes:

“Justin, you KNOW you want to review this. You know you HAVE to. It’s your [Emperor Palpatine voice] desssssstiny!”

Who am I to argue with the dark lord of the Sith? So I moved Al over to The Joy Luck Club and I queued up Netflix for another hit in its groin. I think Netflix really despises my movie selections, as it can never figure out what to recommend to me next. “My Little Pony,” it computes, “Followed by Jacob’s Ladder? What kind of sicko is this guy?”

My next step was to ensure that I had a modicum of excuse to present to you all, so I begged and pleaded with my wife to take the fall with me. I believe I used the phrase “It’ll be FUN!” coupled with a manic, desperate smile and a bead of sweat trailing down my forehead. For the sake of our marriage, she complied.

A little Pony background before I touch on the movie. We all know that the ’80s witnessed a massive boom of toy sales due to the discovered synergy between half-hour commercials known as “cartoons” and their $7.99 plastic counterparts at Toys ‘R Us. While we at Mutant Reviewers have mainly focused on the male side of this phenomenon — Transformers, G.I. Joe, Garbage Pail Kids — girls were bombarded with an equal amount of pastel pleasure: Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, She-Ra and, of course, My Little Pony.

As far as I can tell, My Little Pony capitalized on the odd fascination some have for big dumb smelly horses, shrinking them down to a more manageable 4″ size and decking them out with rainbow colors, unicorn horns, wings, brushable tails and tattoos on their rumps. I never quite got the whole “tattoo” thing; it was mainly to help you tell these things apart, yet the ponies had odd things like sunglasses and ice cream cones inked into their flesh. I guess it worked, because My Little Ponies outsold Barbie dolls at one point in that decade.

Moving on to the My Little Pony: The Movie proper, I asked my wife to share with us a brief summary. Due to the mind-numbing nature of this film and her drowsiness, this is what she dictated to me:

“Horses. Dancing horses. Some with wings. Some with horns. Ugly people that eat bat sandwiches. But it’s okay, because life goes on with the Smooze. Did you really write that? Think Care Bears with angry rainbows. And tattoos of ice cream cones on their butts.”

Well put.

Whatever campy fun I thought I was going to get out of this film evaporated into a cloud of screams and misery by minute three. By minute five, I felt amazed that any female who grew up in the ’80s managed to stay out of asylums. This film is insulting to intelligent minds of any age.

What we have is Pony Kingdom, one of those happy-go-lucky places where the upper class of Little Ponies rule from their bright pink castle and dominate the local forest critters, who are essentially slave labor. Don’t believe me? Think on this, because I sure did: Ponies have only stubby hooves and mouths to manipulate things with. There is no possible way they could have built homes, manufactured furniture and clothing and makeup, and constructed a castle without brutally forcing animals with fingers and lower body masses to do their bidding. Mordor had nothing on the Little Ponies, when you think about it.

While the Ponies engage in what seemed to be a 45-minute spring festival that consisted of the same things over and over — singing, tripping into pies, prancing around with their serfs — we switch over to the main villain, a witch who lives in the mouth of an active volcano. This was perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the movie — not the witch, who falls into the standard “I’m evil and haven’t learned the value of hugs yet” stereotype — but the locale for her lair. I don’t know about you, but I have enough things to worry about with my home maintenance. I wouldn’t want to worry about sulfur fumes, ash bombs suffocating me in my sleep, and the very real possibility of boiling hot liquid magma erupting through my toilet as I did number two.

So. Witch hates Ponies (we don’t blame her), and she employs her two less-evilish daughters to hatch a series of plans to make Pony Land dark, dank and dreary. Aside from the tedious musical numbers – yes, there are musical numbers – I just loathed the sisters in this movie. The director obviously loved pratfalls and physical humor, so the sisters are constantly falling over, tripping, stumbling, hitting each other, making goofy faces, and jittering around like diabetics at a candy festival. I mean, guys, I’m rooting for you to make pony skeletons out of the lot of the antagonists, but do you have to make it so hard to even tolerate your screen time?

Other than mentioning an appearance of “Bushwoolies,” which are dust bunnies given eyes and anthropomorphic features, there’s not much else I can shed light on that you wouldn’t already predict. It’s syrupy sweet, from beginning to end, and terrible for it.

In fact, My Little Pony: The Movie absolutely bombed in theaters, and that, plus the less-than-desirable take from Transformers: The Movie, doomed G.I. Joe: The Movie to a video release instead of theatrical. As if I needed another reason to hate ponies at this stage in my life.

Sometimes relics of the past need to be stayed buried, even with (shudder) rainbow power.

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