Full disclosure: I know absolutely nothing about the My Little Pony universe. My sister had the toys growing up in the ’80s, but other than that I have remained blissfully ignorant of anything having to do with this stuff. So please forgive me if I get some things wrong here because this movie was pretty mind-blowing.
For starters, the theatrical release of My Little Pony: The Movie opens with a short film, Hanazuki: Full of Treasures. Though the IMDb credits state otherwise, I’d believe if you told me this thing was some elaborate Tarsem-inspired experiment, written by an overcaffeinated kindergartner and animated on a Wii. In the span of five minutes, we follow several color-coded shapes as they are chased by an adorable baby Cthulhu while ranting about how terrified they are of ending up on the dark side of the moon. Later, they are pushed into a lava pit that explodes pixelated squares up into the air while a sleeping baby floats above them, drooling and smiling while telepathically guiding them to safety. More happened. I think demons came and were fed diamonds by the Li’l Old One. It ended abruptly. My heart was racing.
So I thought I was prepared for the main attraction. But no. Nothing could have equipped me for this. Because My Little Pony is so bizarre, so effortlessly, irresponsibly insane, that I don’t think I can really do justice to this film in the space I have here. But it is my duty to try, and I live to serve.
If I had to compare this film to anything, I’d have to say it stacks up neatly with E. Elias Merhige’s Begotten. It drops you right into the middle of the action, into a troubling world of ancient systems and mechanisms not meant for human eyes. We bear witness to manic cult leaders singing about piercing the sky, more little demons feasting on diamonds, a society of psychological cannibals, trickster gods, balloon slaves, The Storm King (who looks more than a little like Mok from Rock & Rule), a Pony Illuminati, lost ponies who beat their own heads into the ground and have conversations with pony skulls to stave off depression, a black hole in the atmosphere that reminded me of a portal to the Black Lodge, and a Lampwick cat that sells ponies to a crew of parrots who travel in massive airships. So, a lot going on! If you haven’t guessed by now, the theme of this film is “Friendship!”
I mean, what can I say? My Little Pony is a piece of work. I assume that all of the above will make sense to those who know the general story going in, but for me, it was absolutely mystifying. I’ve complained that modern children’s’ fare isn’t as dark as the films I grew up with, but good God, this is something else entirely. I want answers, but on the other hand, I don’t want to end up in Radiohead’s “Just” video.