It's a common occurrence. Someone that you know (friend, relative, co-worker, etc.) introduces you to their companion (boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, etc.) and your immediate thought is, "You can do better than that." It's not your place to meddle in the affairs of others, but you simply can't control that thought. I had a similar reaction when I watched My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow with my kids, as I thought, "This passes for entertainment today? You can do better than this."
My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow is the third direct-to-DVD story featuring the "My Little Pony" characters. (If you aren't familiar with "My Little Pony", it's a line of toys (aimed mostly at young girls) that first appeared in the 1980s and has seen a recent resurgence in popularity.) As with the other tales in this series, the story takes place in Ponyville, the home of the Little Ponies. The Ponies are preparing for the "Rainbow Celebration", where the first rainbow of the season is viewed. Rainbow Dash (voiced by Venus Terzo), the pony who represents rainbow's lead the ceremony and instructs the other ponies in what to do for the event. Meanwhile, another celebration is being planned in the land of Unicornia. This is where all of the unicorns live. They are planning their "Annual Princess Rainbow Ceremony". Each year, a young unicorn is chosen to be princess and that unicorn is responsible for creating the first rainbow of the year. This year, the lucky unicorn is a sassy young thing named Rarity (voiced by Cathy Weseluck). However, Rarity is more interested in playing than learning, and once she is shown the magic wand which will initiate the first rainbow, she tosses it into the air and they both promptly disappear. The other unicorns are horrified by this event.
Rarity materializes in Ponyville. Until this point, the Ponies had been unaware of unicorns or Unicornia, so they are fascinated by Rarity and her story. But, when the indications that the first rainbow should be occurring begin to happen, the Ponies, especially Rainbow Dash begin to worry. If Rarity can't get home and make the first rainbow the two celebrations will be ruined.
The above synopsis actually gives My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow too much credit in the story department, as the movie never gets very deep. I never go into a "My Little Pony" feature expecting a story along the lines of L.A. Confidential, but a nice narrative is not too much to ask.
The problems with the story in My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow are twofold. First, other than the main premise, nothing happens. Rainbow Dash is a planning a festival and Rarity gets lost in Ponyville and that's it. There are no subplots, side-stories, or diversions in this 45-minute feature. Which leads into the second point, the problem is resolved far too easily. I don't mean for this to be a spoiler, but everything is wrapped-up all nice and neat very quickly, thus sucking any tension or excitement out of the story. Yes, it can be argued that seeing Rarity away from her family and friends could bother little ones, but before you can say, "I wonder if Rarity will make it home?", everything works out fine. Again, don't our kids deserve better than this?
There's also some odd pacing going on here. There are several moments where the Ponies simply look at each other and giggle for no apparent reason. This reminded me of something out of Speed Racer. And, as noted above, the main conflict is resolved with some 9 minutes to go in the feature, making the last few minutes painfully drab.
Of course I realize that I'm not the target audience for My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow -- fans of "My Little Pony" are who this was made for. But do they want to see the Ponies in a lame story? I love Spider-Man, but I wouldn't like a movie where he simply caught the villain with no problem and then went home.
My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow is escorted onto DVD by Roy G. Biv. The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer has its share of pros and cons. On the plus side, the image is sharp and clear, showing no grain, nor any defects from the source material. The colors look very good, as the pastels and darker hues compliment each other, and never look over-saturated. The problem with this DVD is that the digital transfer has revealed animation which is littered with jagged lines. From the Ponies' hair to their eyeballs, many of the black lines in the animation, which should presumably be straight, are very jagged and noticeable.
The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects with no hissing or distortion. Some random stereo effects were notable and sounded fine. However, I detected no overt surround sound action, nor any subwoofer effects. The audio is far from dazzling, but it serves this animated feature well.
The My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow DVD contains a few extras. "Friends are Never Far Away" is a 21-minute bonus feature which was originally available on a DVD which came with a "My Little Pony" toy set. In this show, the Ponies meet the Pegasus Ponies, which are "My Little Pony"s with wings. In order to get to know each other, the two groups plan a party. Each group is shy at first, but they are soon having a great time. This feature actually teaches a nice lesson about acceptance. "Greetings from Unicornia" (9 minutes) is another bonus short in which the Ponies get a postcard from Rainbow Dash, who is visiting Unicornia. The extras are rounded out with two sing-a-longs for the songs, "I Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Here in Unicornia".
Again, just because I was disappointed by My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow doesn't mean that die-hard "My Little Pony" fans will be. But, here's my own personal litmus test: My kids usually love this stuff and watch the DVDs over and over. However, since their initial viewing of The Runaway Rainbow, the only other time that they've watched it was with me. Otherwise, it's sat on the shelf.