SIFF Film Review – A Brony Tale
A Brony Tale
A Brony Tale is a journey into what makes Bronies love a kid’s cartoon and the voice actress who is uncertain what to make of the Bronies. Bronies, for those who do not know, are usually described as adults or teenagers (usually men) who love the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. This movie sets out to find out more about these people, where they come from, and why they love the show. It is also interviewing and following the voice actress from the show, Ashleigh Ball, as she tries to decide if she should go to a Brony convention.
We are given moments where we see Ashleigh Ball trying to deal with what this extra attention means and what she thinks about what it will be like to be around the Bronies. Most of her moments focus on her being kind of unnerved by the prospect, as Bronies have started going to her concerts that have nothing to do with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. She is a voice actress who sees this as a part and while she likes her characters, she is not as invested as these people are in the show. She has some interesting beats, talking about her work and her trepidation about going to the convention, even though we know it is a foregone conclusion that she will go, and seeing where she finds herself with them. She is fun enough to watch when she talks about these, but then we are also given scenes of her on vacation and randomly walking around New York to get a pizza that seem to be about just seeing her relax. It immediately took me out of the film as being filler. The director, Brent Hodge, openly admits being friends with her at the start of the film and made me wonder if he thought letting us see her more natural would make her more interesting, but it ends up being a montage of little beats that add up to nothing.
In between our moments with Ashleigh Ball, we are exposed to a different enough cross section of the Bronies. We see Brony high schoolers, Brony college groups, a Brony family, Brony military people, etc. It gives a good sense of how far reaching the TV show is and the different kinds of people who enjoy it and get something out of it. When they talk about the show, you get the sense, like many fandoms, that this fulfills something in their lives. What was slightly different is that for many of them, it gave them a sense that there was something positive in the world, that there was a good, positive message being given out from the characters. They felt these characters were well developed and that their friendship was real. Many mentioned the lack of cynicism the show had versus what shows usually put in their humor and characters.
We are even treated to a psychological study that gets into who these people are, their background, and tries to explain why a generation of adults would be seeking out a show like this. They started seeing parallels with major movements in the past, like the hippie movement being a response to war and the Bronie movement as a response to the sense of war and darkness that makes up a lot of the current world view. Others even mention Bronie life as a critique on the way culture tells men that they are suppose to be into action and not like pink-colored ponies. These arguments fluctuated in how effective they are. It seemed more to me to be about a group who found a niche that fits them. I don’t see a major difference than, say, someone who loves anime or is into comic books; it gives them an escape and a place to belong.
This being the case, after a while, just talking about the Brony phenomenon started to wear me down. As mentioned, we are given different types of Bronies, yet the main crux of what defines them as loving this show becomes very familiar and you just get sick of hearing about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic! It is like anyone who is passionate about a subject to them, it can mean the world, but for those of us who don’t care as much it, it starts to get repetitive. Ashleigh Ball has a nice journey where she ends up with the Bronies, but our end point is that these are decent people who like a TV show and they get something out of it. While not a bad message, I am not certain I needed this much time with them to get to that point across.