It appears “My Little Pony,” the kid-friendly animated franchise that dates back to the ’80s, has gone woke.
Netflix has released “My Little Pony: The Next Generation,” and the 90-minute film welcomes new fantastical creatures, some of them fear-mongering, with a mission to restore the pony world of Equestria with magic.
Starring Jane Krakowski, Vanessa Hudgens, Sofia Carson, Elizabeth Perkins, James Marsden, Ken Jeong and more, the film puts a spotlight on a land that’s divided and is in need of somewhat of a political awakening. All the while, it maintains the cheerful tone and colorful visuals “My Little Pony” is known for.
In its description, Netflix immediately draws attention to a ponyverse that’s in disarray as Equestria has “lost its magic,” thus leaving three species – earth ponies, unicorns and pegasi — “living in fear and mistrust against each other.”
James Marsden, Vanessa Hudgens, Sofia Carson, Liza Koshy and Kimiko Glenn voice characters in the show. (2021 Hasbro/Netflix)
In an apparent effort to send a message to kids about empowerment, unity and reform, Hudgens plays the heroine of the film, an earth pony named Sunny, who teams up with a curious unicorn named Izzy (Kimiko Glenn) to attempt to make peace with outsiders from other communities. Along the way, they meet some pals and band together as a pack of young progressives wanting to make change.
“I think that it really reflects the times,” Hudgens said of the movie’s impact in an interview with ABC 6. “My character believes in inclusion and friendship.”
“It’s such a sweet little message to be reminded of,” Glenn added to the outlet. “Until you’ve experienced someone, you can’t know how they actually live. We flourish when we come together. It’s an important message.”
“My Little Pony: A New Generation” includes ZIPP, voiced by Liza Koshy. (Cr: © 2021 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.) (2021 Hasbro/Netflix)
At one point, Sunny leads a charge against a demonstration led by a defensive weapons manufacturer, per one review from the New York Times.
“Their mission is full of misadventures, but these new best friends each possess their own unique and special gifts that may be just what this ponyverse needs to restore magic and prove that even little ponies can make a big difference,” Netflix’s description of the movie continues.
Meanwhile, Marsden pointed out that his character, Hitch, is “the first male pony of the core characters of the ponyverse.”
“He’s the sheriff, so he likes to keep order and everything kind of in control and keep everybody safe. By the end of the movie, they’re embracing each other through the bonds of friendship and embracing their own individuality. Those are things that young kids need to need to see more of,” the actor said.
The Times hints at the “surprisingly unsubtle references” to America’s current political climate, likely to get picked up by parents viewing with their little ones. The anti-magic ponies are essentially “anti-science,” writer Batrice Loayza points out. Meanwhile, Jeong’s Sprout is a “crimson demagogue with a bleach-blonde mane” who “ascends to power.”
“My Little Pony: The Next Generation” was directed by Robert Cullen and José L. Ucha. It’s available to stream now.