[Screen It]


(2021) (voices of Vanessa Hudgens, Kimiko Glenn) (PG)

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Computer-Animated Musical Adventure: An Earth pony sets out to prove that her kind shouldn't fear unicorns and pegasi, and teams up with some of them to prove her point.

In the Equestrian town of Maretime Bay, Sunny (voice of VANESSA HUDGENS) is an Earth pony who learned long ago from her late dad, Argyle (voice of MICHAEL McKEAN), that the current situation where all ponies fear unicorn and pegasi is unfounded.

But with him gone, Sunny can't get anyone to follow her in that belief. Yet she continues to try, including interrupting the annual show put on by adult pony Phyllis (voice of ELIZABETH PERKINS) who runs a factory that makes products to defend their kind against those other species.

Sunny's actions put her in the crosshairs of her only friend in town, Sheriff Hitch (voice of JAMES MARSDEN), who's now deputized Phyllis' son, Sprout (voice of KEN JEONG), to be his right-hand pony. But that youngster flees, as does most everyone else, when Izzy (voice of KIMIKO GLENN), a unicorn from Bridlewood Forest, shows up.

She's bubbly and friendly and anything but dangerous, yet Sunny knows she must get her out of town to protect her and come up with a plan to prove to her townsfolk that unicorns and pegasi shouldn't be hated and feared.

With Hitch on their trail, that eventually leads them to the town of Zephyr Heights, ruled by Queen Haven (voice of JANE KRAKOWSKI) and where Princess Pipp (voice of SOFIA CARSON) is a huge pop star, all while her sister, Princess Zipp (voice of LIZA KOSHY), is tired of them leading deceptive lives.

And they eventually make their way to Bridlewood Forest, where they must contend with barkeep Alphabittle (voice of PHIL LAMARR) who has something in his possession that could help them on their quest.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

Young kids are like sponges and thus whatever is fed to them by their parents, siblings, friends, teachers, other authority figures and even news that they might watch -- in terms of mindset, behavior, and views toward others -- is likely to be absorbed and stick around for years and sometimes for life if not challenged by contrasting views in high school, college, or thereafter.

The latter is often a good thing since we all know that any variety of isms and phobias are passed down unchecked from generation to generation when not outright preached as the gospel. All of which means intolerance and hatred for anyone or anything different from one's existence or peer group, something that's only gotten worse due to social media and propaganda "news" outlets.

Thus, it's sometimes nice to see a little counterprogramming inserted into entertainment aimed at kids (and sometimes any older teens or adults in tow) to soften and maybe just maybe reverse some of those more severe stances.

Such is the case with "My Little Pony: A New Generation." No, the powers that be aren't trying to turn your kids into so-called "bronies" (who showed up, as adults, with pony figurines and such the last time I saw a MLP film in theaters). Instead, they'd like them to be more tolerant of others who might be different and question fear-based, us vs. them propaganda that's being fed to the masses.

Penned by Gillian Berrow and Tim Sullivan, the story begins when a young Earth pony, Sunny (voiced by Vanessa Hudgens), questions another kid repeating that unicorns will melt their brains -- when not reading them -- with lasers from their unicorns. She's learned this from her open-minded dad (Michael McKean) who draws the ire of another parent, Phyllis (Elizabeth Perkins), who isn't happy that her son, Sprout (Ken Jeong), is playing in such a household that doesn't believe in "the truth."

Flash forward a few years and Sunny is all alone in that mindset, with Phyllis now running a defend-the-masses-from-the-enemy factory and Sprout being eager to be deputized by Sheriff Hitch (James Marsden) who must keep Sunny from disrupting the factory's annual celebration.

But that distraction comes in the form of Izzy (Kimiko Glenn), a bubbly and certainly non-threatening unicorn who's arrived in Maretime Bay from Bridlewood Forest. Despite her demeanor, all but Sunny panic and flee, with Izzy admitting that her previously learned "truths" about Earth ponies aren't right.

The two then go on a quest to set things straight, resulting in a visit to Zephyr Heights where they encounter Queen Haven (Jane Krakowski) and her two daughters (Sofia Carson and Liza Koshy) one of whom is a pop princess and the other a rebellious doubter of the troubling status quo.

As the title suggests, this is a new generation of MLP characters (at least in the movie world, I know next to nothing about the franchise), and this time around they arrive as computer-animated characters rather than the previous, hand-drawn variety. The direction by co-helmers Robert Cullen and Josť Ucha is lively, as are the songs, with solid singing and spoken vocal work and enough humor (both in the dialogue and lots of little Easter egg bits) to appease adults.

I'm far from the target audience, but I have to admit I enjoyed the flick, with the message of tolerance, friendship, and love being the tasty offering on this cinematic cake. "My Little Pony: The New Generation" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed September 23, 2021 / Posted September 24, 2021

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