Watching "My Little Pony: The Movie" (citywide) is like being immersed in cotton candy for an hour and a half: The sticky-sweet cuteness is piled on so thickly that adults leave the theater checking their teeth for new cavities.
"My Little Pony" represents the latest entry in the recent spate of gigantic commercials disguised as animated features for children. This one hawks a line of determinedly cute little horsies with long manes and tails, made by Hasbro. (They're said to be quite popular with little girls.)
George Bloom's script trots out all the different models--Earth Ponies, Unicorn Ponies, Flutter Ponies, Baby Ponies, Baby Sea Ponies--for the customers' inspection, even if they have nothing to do with the minimal storyline.
As the cute Little Ponies celebrate the advent of spring, the witch Hydia and her daughters, Reeka and Draggle, plot to make Ponyland "dank, dark and dreary"--an odd goal for three characters who live in a volcano. The witches summon up the Smooze, a lavender monster that resembles a lava flow, and send it out to flood the surrounding landscape.
After a meandering series of formula adventures, the Ponies defeat their foes with the help of three drippy human children. All ends happily for the toys--if not the viewers--as the Ponies move into their new home, Paradise Manor (available at your neighborhood toy store).
Danny DeVito, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Rhea Pearlman and Tony Randall provide the voices for the Smooze, the witches and an absent-minded elf. But the entire cast whines and camps and overacts so shamelessly that listening to "My Little Pony" is like plugging your headphones into a ham actor.
The film was drawn in Japan and Korea for Sunbow/Marvel, and the animation looks like rewarmed Saturday morning kidvid. It's hard to understand why director Michael Joens accepted a script that featured the Smooze so prominently, as none of the artists can animate it. Giving weight, volume and convincing motion to an amorphous character is extremely difficult, and these animators simply aren't equal to the challenge.
Composer Tommy Goodman and lyricist Barry Harman contributed a number of extraneous, saccharine songs that give new currency to the term doggerel . But the real theme song of "My Little Pony" is the ring of the cash register, as Hasbro attempts to turn unwitting young viewers into customers. The sugary cuteness of the Little Ponies masks a corporate greed as cold and sharp as a razor blade.