Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Very Minty Christmas
TV on DVD review by Muchacha Motorista

Muchacha Motorista returns with a look back at her fond memories of My Little Pony, and what the new A Very Minty Christmas DVD did to them. Enjoy!

As a little kid, I was as into My Little Pony as Sombrero Grande was into The Smurfs. I had many of the first generation toys, and watched the show with gusto. So I was excited when they begin to release a new generation of ponies a few years ago for a new generation of kids. I even watched "A Very Minty Christmas" on TV a couple years back when it came out. After watching it again on DVD, I’m pretty sure I just blocked it out the first time around, not wanting it to ruin my good My Little Pony memories (or my Christmas season).

Santa is guided to Ponyville each year by the light of the Christmas Candy Cane, which is baked, sprinkled with something to make it glow, and then perched on the top of the tallest tree. When clumsy Minty accidentally knocks it over, causing it to break into “a hundred crackly pieces,” she despairs that she’s ruined Christmas for all her friends. She first tries to play Santa by giving them her old socks as gifts. Then she decides to take off to the North Pole and guide Santa back to Ponyville herself. In the end, because of the love and concern the ponies have for their friends, Christmas is saved for everyone.

Okay, a weak premise. But try to sum-up the plot for any episode of most any kids’ cartoon show and it won’t fair much better. The real issues with "A Very Minty Christmas" are the dialogue, the animation, the songs, and the continuity errors. What’s left to be good then, right? Exactly.

First of all, the dialogue seems so darn forced. Rainbow Dash has a yuppie voice and says “darling” after every sentence. And sometimes several times per sentence, such as, “You gave us your precious socks, darling? How darling!” Blech. Thistle Whistle whistles constantly during her dialogue. Not like on Arrested Development when Gob Bluth breaks his tooth and whistles when he attempts “th” sounds. No, this is randomly and way-too-often.

The other dialogue just doesn’t make any sense at all. For example:

Star Catcher: “You’ve brought us to the most magical place of all!”
Minty: “I guess the North Pole is pretty special.”
Star Catcher: “I meant in your heart.”

What the...? Minty has brought them to her heart? Or, more specifically, she’s brought them IN her heart. I rewound and listened to this conversation three times, and it still never made any more sense.

The animation has an odd and very obvious pixilation when there is any movement. This is especially noticeable on every pegasus (since they are continuously moving) and for some reason on the ponies with yellow hair. Maybe it is just having an HD television set that allows me to see it, but I couldn’t get past it in the least bit.

The songs certainly weren’t going to draw my attention away from the animation. You just see a pony’s head start to bob and wait for it like waiting for a slap to the face. Someone is gonna start singing. And if hearing these tunes in the movie wasn’t bad enough, they appear as Sing-a-Long extras. Just in case you wanted to get in the Christmas spirit by singing a classic like “Nothing Says Christmas Like a Pair of Socks.” *shiver*

Ah, socks. Evidently, Minty loves socks like our presidential candidates love Joe the Plummer. Such enthusiasm! I mean, I like socks as much as the next person. But Minty... that’s another story. And she’s a hoarder, with massive piles of them in her house. Of course, even pony socks only come in pairs of two, and they wear them just on their two back hooves. Hmmm. And when Minty decides to play Santa and gives each of her friends her old socks--what a pal!--she only gives them one each, specifically chosen for them (for example, Rainbow Dash gets a sock with a rainbow on it).

Now, Minty says she’s giving Pinky Pie a pink sock, but she hangs that sock in another house and Pinky gets gypped with a hideous purple and green sock. This isn’t Minty’s error however (since they later reference the pink sock she gave to Pinky), but a continuity error.

Other things just plain ol’ don’t make sense. Like, why do all the earth ponies go after Minty in their own hot air balloons, instead of just sending the pegasus ponies to fly after her? And when ponies ice skate, why do they just have blades sticking out of their feet instead of ice skates? And why do they only have the blades at the end of the show, whereas the beginning has them skating bare-hooved?

Now you know there is nothing redeeming here for adults looking for a nostalgic trip to Ponyville. But for little kids? I can say that it’s clean and has nothing scary or sad in it (the ponies don’t even get mad at Minty... at all!). The message is good enough (“love and concern for each other is the true meaning of Christmas”). But I don’t know if I can even suggest a purchase for the little one.

The bonus episode, “Dancing in the Clouds,” is the only reason I’d hesitate to completely turn you away completely from this disc. Now, it does have some of the same issues as “A Very Minty Christmas.” For example, Sky Wishes has an annoying catch-phrase of having her say something that doesn’t make sense (as in, the writers can’t figure out how she’d respond in the situation) and then saying, “Oh, you know what I mean.” Whatever pony she’s talking to always responses “I do” and ends it with that.

As far as continuity is concerned, the glaring error is that a magical pegasus called Star Catcher that lives on Butterfly Island over the rainbow shows up just to one pony and says she must never tell anyone about her. However, in “A Very Minty Christmas” (first episode on the disc), the ponies welcome Star Catcher as “our new friend.” It just makes you feel like you’ve watched the episodes backward, and missed something in between.

But I did say “Dancing in the Clouds” has some merit. It is reminiscent in the plot of a mix between old-school My Little Pony (which was a classic, and had the ponies living like ponies) and the chaser series My Little Pony Tales (in which the ponies were more like people). Incredibly colorful and inviting, there’s even a rainbow waterfall and a rainbow cluster of butterflies that help the ponies dance in the clouds. Nothing bad happens, there is no threat, and everyone just wants to love and help each other. Star Catcher (magical and mysterious, in this episode anyway) is beautiful and makes you want to find a toy version of her.

The bonus episode is only 20 minutes, and because of this, I can’t say it makes the DVD worth buying. But I’m willing to give a green flag to renting it, if the kid really wants to see it (though you won’t get the cute mini toy that the DVD comes with). And then stick with Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, for your own sanity.


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