More ponies, more problems
Perhaps fittingly, providing an historical perspective has prompted me to approach things backwards. Especially since the final product is so mired in crap (or Smoozed, as it were), going backward is going to be a smelly process. It’s a bit fresher to start at the beginning and work forward.
Say you sit down to write My Little Pony: The Movie. You’re a fan of fantasy stories, you like to write epic tales of heroism and dastardly deeds; the kind of tales that have horses in them a lot. The producers gave you three main restrictions in writing this movie:
It needs to have the My Little Ponies in it. The My Little Ponies are pretty horses that don’t do anything and have logos on their butts (sorry, haunches) that signify their personalities.
You need to introduce two new products:
Paradise Estates, the new My Little Pony ranch compound, developed to make up for flagging sales of the My Little Ponies castle
The Flutter Ponies, which are just like the My Little Ponies, except they have little plastic wings on them, probably because the ponies are made in the same factory in Taiwan where they make butterfly pencil-tops or outrageous 80s hair clips.
It needs to be a 90 minute, G-rated, animated musical.
So, unlike my “Dream Factory” post describing Disney’s Tale Spin, let’s try to follow a reasonable train of thought (and not the kind of train of thought that sets Gummy Bears in Medieval France).
Okay, the My Little Ponies have a new home. Why do they have a new home? Well, something either caused them to move, or they got a second home, or something happened to their old home. The third of these is by far the most interesting from a dramatic perspective. Fine. Something happens to the My Little Pony castle, so the My Little Ponies need to move to Paradise Estates. That covers restriction #1 (the My Little Ponies are in the movie) and the first half of restriction #2 (Mommy, buy me that plastic ranch!).
So, we need to introduce the Flutter ponies somehow. Maybe they live where the new home is?
You know, I don’t think a Mattel-inspired version of The ‘Burbs is going to work here. Besides, we want to write high adventure! That’s why we signed on to write this movie about children’s toys and horses! That and the cool 500 smackers we’re probably making once we finish 100 pages or so — somebody’s getting a new white suit and coral collarless shirt combo for the wardrobe! Don Johnson, eat your heart out!
Mattel gave you some prototypes of these toys to look at while you write, so you hand them to your 4-year old daughter and watch her play with them.
“HIIIIII!!” (she strikes the My Little Pony with the Flutter Pony on the head) “Let’s be friends!”
“Okay, I want to make presents!”
“I want to drink orange juice!”
“Horses don’t drink orange juice! Horses drink grass!”
“Let’s drink orange juice!”
“I love tea party! Let’s go to the DOO DOO DOO.”
“Oh, it’s a cave!”
“Don’t go in the cave, it’s haunted!”
“Oh noooooooooooooooooooooooooo . . .”
“Haaaa.” (the two horses nuzzle for about five minutes while she makes random noises)
“Orange juice orange juice!”
The dialogue could use some work, but the relationships are clear: in every game she plays, the My Little Ponies and the Flutter ponies don’t start as friends, but they become friends. She recognizes that they are different, but it’s hard to avoid the essential similarities once she starts playing with them. Any conflicts are usually petty and short-lived. Also, she is apparently always thirsty. We should do something about that.
lol i am one of those people who saw it on video! in the times before there were dvds :)
I’m pretty sure I sat through this one. Or maybe my mother took my daughter and I got to stay home. My daughter was 5 at the time and a fierce collector of these ponies, so of course she had to see the movie. I do know I sat through a Care Bears movie and something called “Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night” which even my daughter at 6 was able to poke fun at. I think that pretty much ended that phase of bad animated movie viewing. The ’80s!
ADULT ME: Well done, Pete! This was a cleverly-conceived, epically-executed article. Most importantly, it made me laugh.
KID ME: Oooh do one on Care Bears!!! Or Rainbow Brite! WEEEEEE I want CANDY
You really brought your A game on this one, Pete. I think it speaks to the quality of your post that it has me – inconceivably – curious as to how the plot of the MLP movie is resolved.
Is it sadder that I can basically answer Stokes’s question myself, or that I was able to sing along with the musical clips? That’s how often I made my parents and grandparents rent it for me. But they never hunkered down an bought it. Why not, I have no idea.
This thrilled me inside… Mostly because I not only saw this movie I OWNED it… And watched it obsessively. Bravo sir.
I wonder if they’ve released this on dvd yet…
I watched it on VHS a lot when I was a kid. Not as much as I did the Transformers Movie which I saw actually saw in the theaters. Great job, Fenzel. More 80s cartoons articles please!
perfect. so perfect it was copied over to another great moment of my childhood
1995’s MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS THE MOVIE
the grundle king did some experimenting in college and came back alive and kicking as Ivan ooze.
dont even pretend like its not possible
Oh I LOVE this movie! I believe they DID re-release it recently on dvd, along with a lot of the episodes from the tv series. The artwork on the covers is different, not the original style ponies, but the actual videos are the same as the 80’s. Fabulous stuff to watch when you need to be cheered up!
Great heroes are often defined by their villains. Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader. He-Man had Skeletor. U.S. Grant had Robert E. Lee.
and G. W. B. had O. B. L.
Imagine having this on your resume as a writer, director or animator. Low mumble: “yeah, and I worked on My Little Pony…” All those bright colors must eventually drive an animator insane.
Calling John von Neumann “An Evil Nazi Scientist” is pretty much defamation of character and detracts from an otherwise interesting article. He was a Hungarian Jew born in Budapest and his family moved to the United States in 1930, three years before the Nazis came to power in Germany. During WWII he was one of the major players in the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos New Mexico.
Yes, my apologies. I confused John Von Neumann with Werner Von Braun. That’s entirely unacceptable, and I apologize to Von Neumann and his family.
“…how often I made my parents and grandparents rent it for me. But they never hunkered down an bought it. Why not, I have no idea.”
Likely because they knew that if you had to nag them into renting it, it would be around for a couple days and then it would be weeks again before you got annoying enough that they’d do it again to Shut You The Hell Up.
But if they *bought* it for you – three (or more) times a day, seven days a week, till they killed either the VCR, you, or themselves…
Oh, you are too hard on it. And you seem to be of the male persuasion as well. Being born in 1980, I was on this like jam on bread. I had no idea though that it was ever in a theater, so I’d assume the marketing for it was not good. Once it was on VHS though, it was worn out by me. I even remember the Flutter Ponies sequel – and Flutter Ponies were a gold standard in our Kindergarden class. Sure, part of my love is nostalgia, and it definitely didn’t have a well thought out plot or characters, but you had to be a little girl in the ’80s to understand. That said, I’d still watch that any day over the modern animated movies coming out that are geared toward girls.
Fairportfan: So would that also be why they never bought _Gettysburg_ for me, too? I mean, I had them rent it so often that the video store gave it to us because the tapes got so worn down…
Yeah, I was/am *that* nerdy and at *that* early of an age.
Can you do one on Gem and the Holograms?