My Little Rambling #74: A Brony’s Review of “My Little Pony: The Movie” (1986)

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With two years to go before the full-blown My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic movie is supposed to hit theaters, I figured I’d take a look back at the very first theatrical MLP film. Preceded by the standalone television specials “Rescue at Midnight Castle” in 1984 and “Escape from Catrina” in 1985, My Little Pony: The Movie was released on June 20, 1986. As Hasbro would learn that summer, the public wasn’t ready for toy lines-turned-movies: MLP:TM and The Transformers: The Movie would each gross only $6 million domestically, leading to combined losses of over $10 million. Despite My Little Pony: The Movie’s poor financial and critical reception, Hasbro went along with putting the My Little Pony ‘n Friends series on TV in 1986, where it lasted for a year.

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Like one familiar with the franchise would probably expect, My Little Pony: The Movie combines fantasy, adventure and music. The story begins as cutesy as possible, with the ponies of Dream Castle preparing for a festival in their verdant woodland paradise. Unbeknownst to them, three witches at the aptly named Volcano of Gloom want to spoil their fun to maintain the family tradition of being evil (intense motivation, I know.) The bumbling sisters Reeka (voiced by Rhea Perlman) and Draggle (Madeline Kahn) prove to be an endless source frustration for their mother Hydia (Cloris Leachman) who for some reason despises being addressed as a mom.

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Meanwhile, the ponies’ conflict arises when Baby Lickety-Split (Alice Playten) dances clumsily and ruins the baby ponies’ dance performance. The other ponies give her a particularly nasty reprimand, so she gets upset and decides to run away, allowing Spike the dragon (Charlie Adler) to tag along. After an unsuccessful attempt to ruin the ponies’ festival, Reeka and Draggle manage to create Smooze: a fast-moving, unstoppable purple goo that engulfs the Dream Castle. Along the way, the ponies enlist the help of others including the human girl Megan (Tammy Amerson) with her younger siblings Danny and Molly; the friendly gnome known as The Moochick (Tony Randall); and some good-natured trolls known as Grundles, led by the Grundle King (Danny DeVito.)

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While it’s not something I’m going to rush to immediately watch again, I thought My Little Pony: The Movie was better than many critics made it out to be. It’s easy to criticize it by comparing it to Disney, since the animation doesn’t measure up to those standards (The Great Mouse Detective came out two weeks later, after all.) Still, My Little Pony: The Movie isn’t a bad film: the story is compelling enough, with a dangerous, fast-paced adventure that involves meeting a lot of cute characters (there are a few good lessons that help, too.) I found at least a few of the songs memorable, with my favorite easily being the bizarre doo-wop number “Nothing Can Stop The Smooze,” complete with a voice for the purple ooze itself. I do wish I’d seen this film as a kid so I could have some nostalgic memories of it: if you’re interested, Shout! Factory reissued the DVD on January 27.

 

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About the Author

Mark Theroux

Mark is g33ky about a lot of things, including music (especially his hero “Weird Al” Yankovic); movies (just about anything goes in that category); TV (ranging from older Simpsons to Breaking Bad to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic); and video games (he started with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for Sega Genesis, and his modern consoles of choice are the Nintendo 3DS and – most recently – Wii U.) Some of his other favorite things are cats, Chipotle burritos and long walks on the beach. His least favorite things include poison ivy (the plant, not the smokin’ Batman supervillain), rude people and the inevitability of making a typo or two.

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