Search This Blog

observation notes: Princess and the Pony (formerly 1st Furry Valentine)

You didn't think I was gonna skip this one, did you? You didn't assume that just because this is a massive thematic departure for The Asylum, their first, full-on venture into family filmmaking (overlooking Sunday School Musical - incidentally from this director - and Pirates of Treasure Island; the former is aimed at teens and the latter has too much cleavage for anyone under 10) that I would choose to ignore it? Oh no, my friends - in for a penny, in for a pound, that's practically the colloquial definition of "committed," and I'm nothing but. These guys could release a knitting instructional video and I'd watch it. Twice. So here we go:

When a privileged but sheltered princess (Fiona Perry) is threatened by a breach of palace security, her mother the Queen (Kim Little, in her first Asylum flick since 2009's Countdown:Jerusalem) makes the decision to send her to America where she has an aunt (Bobbi Jo Lathan) living in the heartland, far from suspicious or pernicious eyes and hands. Once there, immersed in the decidedly plebeian culture, forced to pretend she is the opposite of herself, a normal little girl, our princess naturally has trouble making friends, at least of the human variety; when she discovers a carnival pony, however, it's love at first sight. But this love is soon threatened when the ne'er-do-well carnival owner (Bill Oberst Jr.) discovers her true identity, thus her true worth.

I'm not ashamed to admit, nor do I think it's weird, that as a grown man with no kids I found this to be an enjoyable film. Everyone loves a good fairy tale, and that's exactly what this is, a parable about virtue and friendship modernized for today's kids while retaining enough classical elements to feel timeless. The script, by director Rachel Lee Goldenberg (Sherlock Holmes) and Bill Parker (an Asylum editor), is balanced nicely between sentimental and adventurous, hitting all the right emotional chords without lapsing too much into being wholly either. The result is a fun, sweet, lively and uplifting film that - oh yeah, I'm going to say it - the whole family can enjoy.

Fiona Perry, a relative newcomer with a credit here or there, is the perfect princess, a child actress capable of portraying a burden most grown folk couldn't passably carry, that of being royalty, and the pressures, restrictions and in fact short-comings, socially and practically speaking, such a life implies. Miss Perry shows an emotional range well beyond her years, and is exactly the sort of little girl every other little girl would want to be friends with. The Asylum might have just found itself a Fanning-esque prodigy. 

Ms. Lathan shines as Aunt Fay, as does Ron Hajak as Lawrence, the princess' American paternal figure, but it's the performance by Bill Oberst Jr. as despicable carnival owner Theodore Snyder that steals the show on the adults' end. As a sort of cartoonishly further-demented Daniel Plainview (click here, then here), he takes wickedness to a delightful new level and transforms what could have been a generic villain into a memorable adversary. They should shuffle this guy into a regular Asylum flick - he'd make a heck of a space marine platoon leader or serial killer.

All in all, then, the verdict on this one is positive. For a guy who doesn't really watch a lot of kid-oriented stuff (at least not the stuff made after, I don't know, 1987?) I wasn't really aware of the fact that I was watching something intended primarily for kids. A good story is a good story, and this was just that. Throw in some great performances and an uplifting ending - not something all Asylum films come with; I'm looking at you, When a Killer Calls and Sex Pot - and you got yourself a positive 85 minutes. If I had a daughter, I'd totally let her watch Princess and the Pony, and she'd totally love it. Committed from birth.

No comments:

Post a Comment