It may seem hard to believe, but there was a time, not so long ago, when toy companies would licence out their IPs to animation studios to crank out a quick cash-in feature film, caring less for the quality of the end result than they do now. In 1986, having seen the success enjoyed by Parker Bros/ Kenner after “The Care Bears Movie”, Hasbro decided it was time for their saccharine equines to trot their way to the box office.
While the Little Ponies are preparing to celebrate the first day of Spring at the Dream Castle, the evil witch Hydia watches from the nearby Volcano of Gloom. She commands her daughters, Draggle and Reeka, to ruin the festival but they only mess up so Hydia decides to do it herself, releasing the Smooze.
A joint production by Sunbow Productions and Marvel Productions, their logos are where the rosy glow of nostalgia started and finished with this movie. The animation, by Toei Animation and, astonishingly, AKOM (who would go on to work on “Animaniacs” and “Batman: The Animated Series” amongst many, many others), is desperately poor and there’s a lack of personality to any of the Pony characters, let alone the apparently endless parade of other creatures meant to up the cute factor and/ or provide Hasbro with another potential product line. The musical numbers, such as they are, are truly, truly, truly atrocious and feel like halfway through the production, some cigar-chomping Hasbro exec demanded that the film have songs to pad out its non-existent storyline for the full eighty minutes and followed their suggestion up with: ‘I mean, how hard can it be?’
Limp, disjointed and lazily repetitive, there’s nothing in this movie which even begins to show why the My Little Pony range was so popular and beloved. To take the affection, enthusiasm and imagination of so many children (as well as so much money from their parents) and give them this in return borders on abuse. As usual, there are a few celebrity voices along for the ride, but they’re wasted in pointless peripheral roles and cursed with turgid and repetitive dialogue. It’s incredible to think this box office bomb went on to spawn multiple TV series and, now thirty years later, another feature film, especially when you think of what usually happens to horses this lame.