Cinema Connoisseur: Pony doc will have you whinnying
Gender roles have changed greatly over the past several decades. Men are now free to choose any profession they want, rather than being limited to the choice of becoming a lumberjack or bear wrestler. Men can express emotions, even going as far as to cry... provided they have stubbed their toe, or just finished watching the series finale of ALF, that is.
One thing society has not fully embraced, however, is a man's right to watch a television show aimed at young girls. Thankfully, a movement is in place to change that way of thinking, and that movement is captured in the terrific documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.
You may be asking yourself, “What in the blue hell are bronies?” Bronies are male fans of the My Little Pony franchise, in most cases more specifically of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series. Not only do these men watch the program, but they collect pony figurines, attend conventions and create wonderful works of art inspired by Rainbow Dash and company.
John de Lancie is a veteran actor who has appeared in a few shows with rabid fan bases. He portrayed Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and has also had recurring roles in Stargate: SG-1 and Breaking Bad. So he was certainly used to getting attention. But nothing could have prepared him for the adulation he received from his work as the voice of Discord in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And he certainly wasn't expecting to be receiving this praise from grown men.
So de Lancie, along with Tara Strong (the voice of Twilight Sparkle) and series creator Lauren Faust teamed up to produce Bronies. The documentary takes us deep into the world of My Little Pony fandom, and all the mania (or should I say mane-ia) surrounding it. We get to see footage from BronyCon, Galacon, and B.U.C.K., three of the largest gatherings of bronies (and their female equivalents, known to some as pegasisters).
We meet a father who is struggling with his son's fondness for all things pony. Only a trip to the largest brony convention could break down the walls between them and lead to a greater level of love and understanding.We meet a young man who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and thus does not interact well with others. However the thought of being amongst his pony-obsessed brethren is an opportunity too great to pass up, and he must struggle to shed his inhibitions as he travels alone to the convention.
We are also introduced to some of the world's preeminent brony artists, tremendously skilled individuals who compose ballads, paint pictures and create elaborate light shows, all inspired by this fine television program.
Not since I first watched Weekend At Bernie's 2 could I describe a movie-watching experience as being life-altering. But I would definitely say that about this film. Immediately after watching this film, I threw all of my two-year- old son's “boy” toys out in the trash. That new fire station he got for Christmas was gone, replaced by a Barbie Dream House. Goodbye, Thomas and Friends; hello, Disney Princesses. It is now up to Strawberry Shortcake, Smurfette and Pinkie Pie to mold my son into the man I know he can be.
For the unforgettable characters introduced, and the wonderful message it presents, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony is truly deserving of four hooves up. Hopefully Roger Ebert didn't copyright that rating system as well.