Film: My Little Pony
Cast: (voices) Tara Strong, Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Michael Peña, Zoe Saldana, Sia, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck, Uzo Aduba, Ashleigh Ball
Director: Jayson Thiessen
Rating: * * * *
Look what Santa brought for the Yuletide – Heigh ho! A charmer marked by top-notch animation of an equine toy line, a memorable story, engaging characters, catchy songs and most important, meaningful messages about love, loyalty, friendship, teamwork, courage and persistence. Horse around the multiplex before/after enjoying the prancing and dancing of quadrupeds in Equestria, home sweet home of ponies, unicorns and dragons. The Land is governed with sweetness and light by such royals as Princess Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong) whose prime duty is to spread friendship and harmony everywhere.
She gets by with some help from her friends: Applejack and Rainbow Dash (both voiced by Ashleigh Bell), Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy (both voiced by Andrea Libman), and Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain). Then in this equestrian Eden lurks a vengeful killjoy: the broken horned unicorn Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) who makes an unholy pact with the demonic Storm King (Liev Schreiber) to steal the ponies’ magic and vanquish Equestria.
Twilight and gang of five – code name “Mane 6” – evade Tempest and plan to save their homeland with assistance from unlikely quarters: parrot pirates, a con artist cat named Capper (Taye Diggs) sea ponies and their Queen Novo (Uzo Aduba). There’s a song about being awesome which is a booster considering that Sparkle is wracked by self-doubt until she is told, “Being a princess means more than just a crown. It’s a promise not to let other ponies down.” On her part, the wounded Tempest comes to realize, “friendship didn’t fail me, I failed friendship.” In conclusion, the themes of forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption work as wondrously well in this reel fantasy as they do in the real world.