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Monday, August 6, 2012

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Royal Pony Wedding (2012) DVD Review

The My Little Pony toys originally came out in 1983. My friends' younger sisters had them (along with Care Bears - another toy that became a television show).  And then several years ago things from the 1980s rose from the grave to delight us once more. Rubik's Cube, Smurfs, Transformers, New Kids On The Block, Kajagoogoo and Cabbage Patch Kids all returned. (Fortunately some things remained buried, like Bill Cosby's sweaters.)  And of course My Little Pony came back.  I bought a My Little Pony set for my niece, and she loved it.  She was three years old.

But it turns out that little girls are not the only fans of the new television program, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, which began airing in 2010.  There is a group of grown men who call themselves Bronies who are big fans of the show.  I think it's wonderful that people feel free to enjoy whatever they wish; I do take issue with the need for the name, however. Can people enjoy something without having to identify themselves by it? I'm looking at you, Trekkers.

The new DVD, titled Royal Pony Wedding, is a collection of five episodes of the show. The centerpiece of this collection is a two-part episode titled "A Canterlot Wedding."  Each of the episodes features at least one musical number, and those are actually pretty good (at least as good as the majority featured in major musicals - seriously).  As this show is aimed at young girls, the episodes are filled with pink.  In fact, there was one shot in the first episode that was devoid of pink, and it stood out as a result (it was only like three seconds long).  This makes me wonder... Are little girls naturally drawn to pink, or is it a learned behavior, an acquired reaction?

Well, that obviously is beyond the scope of the show.  But My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is not vapid; it's not a pointless commercial product. It deals with real issues, stuff that children often have to face - worrying about change in a relationship, feeling alienated from one's friends, questioning one's own perceptions and instincts. Actually, these are things that adults can relate to also.  (Bronies might not be as wacky as one might initially surmise.)

There are actually some truly funny moments in this show. In the first episode, one of the ponies demonstrates her choices of music and dances for the wedding to the Princess. She responds sarcastically, "Perfect, if we were celebrating a six-year-old's birthday party." The pony, pleased, not reading the sarcasm, replies, "Thank you!"

Here is a rundown of the five episodes (and yes, there are spoilers, so beware, Bronies):

"A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1"

In first part of the wedding episode, Twilight receives a magic scroll telling her of an upcoming wedding between Princess Cadance and Shining Armor (Twilight's brother, who is also captain of the royal guard). She's upset at learning of the wedding from a piece of paper rather than from her brother in person. And she sings a song about her big brother, her best friend forever. She's now worried that with things changing she won't be able to see her brother as often.  She confronts him, and learns that he couldn't leave his post because he's in charge of the increased security after Canterlot received a threat.  The Princess turns out to be Twilight's old babysitter.  But she has changed.  No one but Twilight seems to notice.  Her friends are all invited to be the replacement bridesmaids, so Twilight is alone.  And maybe she's wrong after all about Cadance.

"A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2"

The second part opens with Twilight held prisoner in a cave beneath the city. Twilight finds the real Cadance, who is a prisoner too.  The musical number is sung by the two Cadances, and it's a serious song about this wedding day being the perfect day they've dreamed about, leading right to the wedding scene.  By the way, the original, evil bridesmaids are in the cave, and there is a cute moment when they're defeated by the tossing of a bouquet, which they chase. The fake princess is the queen of the Changelings, a race that gains power by feeding off others' love.  Shining Armor grows weaker, because she has been feeding off his love for the real Cadance. And as he grows weaker, so does his spell protecting the city.  Her minions are chipping away at the protective bubble. There is then a short reprise of the song about the perfect day - though this time instead of being about a wedding day, it's about a day of destruction. That's a great sequence, and a great idea. Of course, the love of Cadance and Shining Armor saves the day. Then they put together the real wedding (Where did all the guests go before? And can they really fit a second wedding into their busy pony schedules?). Then Celestia talks to Twilight, wrapping it all up with a moral that makes me wish Sarah Silverman were writing the show. "Learning to trust your instincts is a valuable lesson to learn."

"Hearts And Hooves Day"

"Hearts And Hooves Day" is a Valentine's Day episode.  The ponies are shocked to learn their teacher, Cheerilee, has no date for the holiday. So they decide to find someone for her. As they search for the perfect mate, they sing a song about their teacher, and in the song dismiss one guy after another - for being too short or too old and so on. The best one is, "too strangely obsessed with tubs of jelly."  They settle on Big Mac, a funny, amiable character whose line is an accepting "Yup." They set them up, but it doesn't quite work, so they naturally turn to the help of a love potion. It works, but only too well. The two begin saying dumb lovey dovey stuff, to which the kids respond, "Maybe we added too much rainbow."  It's cute the way the kids are disgusted by every little term of endearment they utter. The moral at the end is that you shouldn't meddle in other people's affairs, even if your intentions are good.

"Sweet And Elite"

Rarity visits Canterlot, where she stays with Princess Celestia. Twilight's birthday is coming up, and Rarity needs to use her time to design a dress to give her.  But she becomes involved with impressing the elite of the city. There is some good humor with rich, snotty ponies named Jetset and his wife, Uppercrust. And there is another pony named Fancypants who invites her to the derby. Rarity begins putting on airs and receives various invitations by Cantelot's elite. And of course there is a musical number about it. (One thing I appreciated is that the show gently rips on the idea of VIPs, in this case Very Important Ponies.)  Rarity chooses the rich party over going to Twilight's birthday party. But Twilight and her friends come to Canterlot to have her party there so Rarity can attend.  Rarity goes to both parties, and the show uses the old gag of going back and forth between parties. The moral at the end: "I learned that no matter where you go in life you should never forget that you are the product of your home and your friends, and that is something always to be proud of, no matter what."  (Unless of course you come from an abusive home and your friends are all thugs.)

"The Best Night Ever"

In what is the weakest episode of the bunch, the ponies get invited to the big gala. They sing a musical number when they arrive about their expectations for the night. At first it seems all their dreams are coming true, but then things change. They try to force their dreams to come true, but that doesn't work. The moral at the end is, "Friends have a way of making even the worst of times into something pretty great."

Bonus Features

The DVD has a couple of bonus features, sing-along versions of two songs featured in these episodes.  The two songs are "Love Is In Bloom" (from the end of "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2")  and "Valentines Day Song" (from "Hearts And Hooves Day").

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Royal Wedding is scheduled to be released August 7, 2012 through Shout! Factory.

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