What if horses are racist?
How do we instill in the growing minds of our young people the idea that bigotry and discrimination based on inherent traits are unsavory and immoral? How to cultivate a better and brighter new generation?
The answer is simple: Hasbro. Obviously.
The most recent permutation of Hasbro’s multimedia gold mine is “My Little Pony: A New Generation,” and it asks an age-old question: What if horses have prejudices?
In the fantasy land of Equestria, they are. In the distant past, the three races of Equestria – unicorns, pegasus, land ponies (read: ordinary ponies … except they can, you know, talk and all) – had a great schism and now live in isolation from one another. others, eternally stoking their mutual hatred. They make up stories about each other: land ponies smell funny, pegasus eat people, unicorns fry their brains with their horned lasers. All except Sunny Starscout (Vanessa Hudgens, “The Princess Switch: Switched Again”), a land pony raised in the small, intimate hamlet of Maretime Bay by a die-hard pony scholar and anti-prejudice. When the bubbly unicorn Izzy Moonbow (Kimiko Glenn, “Over the Moon”) roams the city, Sunny is forced to embark on an epic quest to protect her new unicorn friend, find magical gems and return magic to the land of Equestria. .
There are a number of things wrong with the world of “My Little Pony”. Maretime Bay, for example, is pretty much just an ordinary human town, completely oblivious to the fact that its inhabitants are ungulates and shaggy. They’ve got cell phones, stoves, pencils, doorknobs and all … no matter how short of hands or bipedalism they are.
But let’s hold our horses. It’s “My little pony”. They are little chromatic horses propelled by the magic of friendship. While it has, perhaps unpredictably, drawn to a large and diverse audience, it is primarily aimed at children. Spending time on things like “plausibility” and “truthfulness” completely misses the point. It doesn’t matter how you think about how ponies produce and consume canned goods or operate heavy machinery – the power of friendship trumps such banalities, dammit.
Because you know what? “My Little Pony: A New Generation” isn’t that bad. While the world of Equestria inexplicably mirrors ours in every architectural, ergonomic and technological sense, it’s also filled with clever and cute little touches that make the 90 minutes of runtime relatively smooth. One pony is rollerblading, another pony falls into fascism and at another point ponies clash in something called “Prance Prance Revolution”; each is something of an absurd delight. The songs (yes, there are musical numbers) are enjoyable if not entirely catchy, the jokes aren’t too fancy but well executed and thankfully light on puns and world building – from the crystal woods of the unicorns to the art deco metropolis of pegasi – is fun and varied if a bit basic.
The weak point of the film lies in its characters. As our equine heroine Sunny roams Equestria in search of magical gems, she chooses a cheerful bunch of vagrants (as is the plot of too many movies). With the exception of their roles in advancing the plot and setting up the ultimate theme of friendship and ooey-gooey unity, each character adds just about nothing to the group dynamic. . The only bright spot is Hitch Trailblazer (James Marsden, “Westworld”), which provides a good number of laughs and very satisfyingly allows the pony solidarity theme to shine when you watch his constant conversion from sheriff to land pony to ponykind protector.
“My Little Pony” is not for everyone. It’s not for me, for one. And “My Little Pony: A New Generation” isn’t the most mind-boggling work Netflix has distributed – it’s largely unoriginal, mostly unchallengeable, and possessed by woefully uninspired animation (every children’s movie must have that soft, rounded CGI style these days). But as far as a prejudiced ponies movie goes, it’s light and cute and a reasonable introduction for our new generation to some of the world’s most intoxicating issues. So you know. Do not look at a gift horse in the mouth.
Daily Arts writer Jacob Lusk can be contacted at [email protected]