A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Friendship Games is the third installment of the franchise's high school films meant for older kids. The movie stars My Little Pony characters who have taken on human form and function in a human world accessed only through a magical portal from the land of Equestria. This movie is best for kids who are already familiar with the premise and formula of this highly profitable spin-off of Hasbro's My Little Pony, as there is absolutely no explanation or back story provided here. First-time Equestria Girls viewers will be confused by the rules of the magic, the girls' alter egos, and the relationship between the kids at Canterlot High and beloved ponies in Pony World. Some brief but potentially frightening scenes include apparitions of bizarre creatures, a cackling evil Twilight Sparkle, loud noises, and colorful, swirling, and exploding images. First aired on Discovery Family Channel in September 2015, this movie introduces a wide variety of new characters and activities, now marketed as dolls and toys.
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What's the story?
At Canterlot High, the human counterparts of ponies Fluttershy, Pinkie Pink, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Appplejack, and Sunset Shimmer are preparing for the upcoming games against rival Crystal Prep Academy in MY LITTLE PONY EQUESTRIA GIRLS: FRIENDSHIP GAMES. At Crystal Prep, prize student Twilight Sparkle, unaware of her pony identity but feeling like a complete outsider, has devised a magic pendant in her efforts to find out about the magical energy she keeps encountering. While the mean-spirited principal of Crystal Prep blackmails Twilight into using whatever powers she has to help the school win the games, Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna of Canterlot ask Sunset Shimmer to please control the girls' magic during the games so they won't be accused of cheating. When Crystal Prep arrives at Canterlot for the start of the games, the Equestria Girls are stunned to see that Twinkle Sparkle is a student at the rival school and she doesn't recognize any of them. As the games get underway, Twilight unwittingly unleashes magic that closes the portal and threatens not only to upset the competition but also ultimately destroy the entire human world. It's only after Sunset Shimmer's fantastical skills triumph over Twilight's magic in a fierce battle that fair play and friendship return to the human world.
Is it any good?
This is only for die-hard fans, and even then it's a messy story with way too many characters and plot lines. Don't expect to follow the plot, recognize the players, or know what magic is afoot if you aren't already familiar with the Equestria Girls in this complex, confusing bid for more My Little Pony fans and consumers. Hoping to attract older kids and the tween market, the filmmakers have created a movie that is packed with new characters, academic/athletic events, rivalries, magic, and an original soundtrack of mostly undistinguished musical numbers, along with overt messages about competition, friendship, and true magic. It presumes that the viewer knows how the Ponies became human, how they go back and forth from the pony world to the human world, what magic they possess, and how each of them is different and special. By the end, the movie raises more questions than it answers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning of "crossover" marketing -- for example, the way Hasbro uses this movie to sell new toys and uses toys to sell the movies. What other franchises use crossover marketing? Why is it important for families to be aware of the relationship between the movies and the products?
Do you think knowing the origin of the Equestria Girls and Canterlot High is important to understanding this movie? If you're new to this brand of My Little Pony characters, were you confused? Where would you look for information that would clarify the essential elements of the story?
What did Twilight Sparkle learn about "true magic" in this movie?
What is the appeal of the My Little Pony brand? Why do you think it continues to be popular?
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