But first, there is writing to do!
The main driving force behind the movie is not going to be a conflict between the My Little Ponies and the Flutter Ponies. Neither of them is going to be the villain — they look too similar, they’re going to be identified with each other no matter what we do.
But, the two groups starting out with some petty differences and then becoming friends in the face of a common enemy sounds like a pretty good B-plot.
So, assuming the My Little Ponies and the Flutter Ponies meet each other over the course of the movie, and the My Little Ponies are homeless refugees (My Little Hobos, ‘natch) for much of the movie, and we have to fill 90 minutes of time where the ponies do nothing other than walk around and chit chat, let’s say that the My Little Ponies and Flutter Ponies live far away from each other, so there’s a lot of ground to cover.
Heck, let’s make them live on opposite ends of the world. We’re epic screenwriters, let’s raise the stakes. The Flutter Ponies live in a faraway magical land where horses have wings for some reason. Fairy Dust Pegasus-land or what have you. And the My Little Ponies need to travel to Fairy Dust Pegasus-land because they are homeless refugees looking for a better life.
You know, I don’t think a Mattel-inspired version of The Grapes of Wrath is going to work here. Besides, we want to write high adventure! We need a villain! Somebody for them to fight and defeat!
But ponies can’t fight. Ponies don’t do anything other than walk around. Well, the Flutter Ponies can fly. They can do that much. Maybe the My Little Ponies need to fly somewhere? Eh, that seems pretty lame — to walk halfway around the world just so you can fly up a mountain right next to where you started. Besides, why would the Flutter Ponies care?
My Little Albatross
So, we stay up late and you write some outline drafts. We put our little plot idea cards up on our corkboard – mapping out potential midpoints, jump-to-third-acts, denouements, but it’s all crap, and it all goes in the trash.
Perhaps the best way to think of a villain is just to pick the opposite of the hero. It worked for He-Man, right? (Actually, no “He-Man with a Modular Skull Head” doesn’t make any sense, but that goes into the “happy accidents” file, and we’ll talk about it some other time).
We try My Big Ponies, but they just crush the little ones into pulp.
We try My Little Alligators, but they eat them. You try My Little Full-Grown Horses, but then you can’t tell anything apart.
You try “Your Little Ponies” as the villain, and then you get pissed at Pixar years later when they come up with Toy Story and prove that your meta-toy-marketing idea was not, as you had thought at the time, total bullshit.
“Your Big Ponies” or “Your Full-Grown Horses” just starts sounding dirty. We write some pornographic fanfiction to amuse ourselves, but we throw it away, because, at the time, there was no electronic repository available to us for erotic My Little Pony fanfiction. Oh, how the times have changed.
Just making half the ponies dark and evil-looking would solve our problem (and save money on animation cells), but it would be idiotic, and we’re not happy at all with the implied racism. Plus, they’d just kick the My Little Pony’s asses anyway.
It drives us to despair. We just wish it could all be over. Thankfully, this helps us write one of the musical numbers from the movie, which really has nothing to do with ponies or anything, but it works in an old-timey show-tune kind of way that we don’t really see in movies anymore, so we keep it around.
We put a dragon and a bunch of goblins in it, because we’re starting to hallucinate. We fight the hallucinations with whiskey. We fight the whiskey with vomit. We fight the vomit with more hallucinations.
“Maybe what this movie needs is a Grundle King,” we say to ourselves. The Grundle King makes it into the final script.
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?