TFF2014: A Brony Tale

           The Tribeca Film Festival put geeks in the spotlight in two documentaries this year: Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary, which I’ll review soon, and A Brony Tale.  This fast, fun feature, the first released under the new Morgan Spurlock Presents label, is the perfect offering for the Super Size Me star’s brand.  It shares his humanistic, humorous approach and his colorful aesthetic.  As the executive producer himself said at this weekend’s premiere: “I’m a super geek, and this speaks to everything I’m about.”

            For the uninitiated, a “Brony” is an adult, usually straight male (!) fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the contemporary iteration of the enduring franchise.  These guys come from all walks of life: “Dustykatt” restores motorcycles, Bryan Mischke served in Iraq, and “Silvahound” is an Atlanta based DJ who’s saved money for college by playing Brony parties.  They watch the show, post online about it, wear T-shirts (many of which feature the popular “this needs to be 20% cooler” catchphrase) and costumes, attend meet-ups and create art or music inspired by the land of Equestria.

            The film initiates us into this world through the eyes of Ashleigh Ball, the adorable actress who voices several of the Ponies.  She’s at first weirded out, then bemused by her ardent Brony followers, and has to decide whether or not to travel to New York City for “Brony Con.”  Ball’s friend Brent Hodge wrote and directed the film, and does a fine job of letting her lovable, endearingly sweet personality shine through.  Most geeks, gay or straight, will probably fall in love from the moment she lets loose a torrent of different, equally funny voices she’s created over the years; I myself couldn’t resist asking her to do a couple in the post screening Q&A. 

            Hodge is equally adept at portraying the various stories and personalities of the fans; Mischke, who battled depression and was inspired to draw again by the show, has a particularly touching arc.  The movie is lively and generally fun to watch, with an interesting selection of music, including songs by Ball’s band Hey Ocean!  It serves as a nice celebration of fandom and creativity in general. The Brony movement is so pervasive it’s already spawned one documentary, but this wry little film is likely to stand as the definitive work.

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