Princess and the Pony
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this direct-to-DVD movie contains a shocking amount of violence for a movie billed as "family entertainment." The villains don't just want to kidnap the titular princess, they want to kill her, and at one point there's a loaded gun pointed and about to be discharged at two girls. No one is seriously injured, but the threat of murder is nothing to treat lightly and may upset younger viewers. Otherwise there's just a few insults and some mild flirting between two adults that leads to one chaste kiss.
What's the story?
Princess Evelyn Cottington (Fiona Perry), heiress to a fictional throne, has been kept hidden in the palace since her father's death when she was a toddler. Just as the queen is about to introduce her to society, a breach in palace security makes it obvious the young princess' life is in danger. She's sent off to live with her long-lost Aunt Fay (Bobbi Jo Lathan), who escaped royal life to live in the American heartland. Disguised as "Olivia," Evelyn must attend the small town's public school and try to fit in, which proves difficult since she's lived such a pampered life. Unbeknown to the princess' security, a group of criminals led by Theodore Snyder (Bill Oberst Jr.) masquerading as carnival workers plan to kidnap the princess, if they can figure out which girl she is first. Coincidently, the princess volunteers at the carnival to take care of its prized pony, whom she grows to love.
Is it any good?
This is a sometimes confusing, occasionally alarmingly violent, otherwise forgettable princess tale. A few aspects of this direct-to-DVD movie are the basic staples of the "fish out of water" movie: a sheltered character in disguise tries to pass in a regular American school, but her precocious book smarts and lack of common sense or social acceptability mark her an outsider. Said protagonist finds an unlikely friend (in this case, the titular carnival pony) and eventually proves herself worthy, not only of the "normal" kids' friendship, but of her crown. Audiences are familiar with these themes and will initially want to root for Evelyn/Olivia (she changes her name while hiding out with her aunt).
The problem here is that the production values are so cheap, the villains so over-the-top -- downright inappropriate during the climactic sequences -- and the princess' struggles to fit in is so tame that the whole story becomes eye-rollingly awful. Why would a fluffy piece of family entertainment include frightening scenes of not one but two 10-year-old girls with a gun waved at their face? There's nothing funny about two little girls crying and cowering in the face of a maniacal villain (no matter how ridiculous his mustache looks). By the time Princess Evelyn and the pony save the day, audiences will be glad to be done with this movie.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the amount of violence in the movie. Does the caricaturish nature of the villain make the violence any less disturbing? Is it appropriate for a family targeted film to have so much gun violence?
What did the princess' friendship with the pony teach her? How does she overcome her self-esteem issues?
How was the movie similar to other films about people in disguise in out of the way communities?