November 22nd, 2023
STARRING: ARIANA DEBOSE, CHRIS PINE, ALAN TUDYK, ANGELIQUE CABRAL
DIRECTED BY: CHRIS BUCK, FAWN VEERASUNTHORN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
Disney’s newest animated original Wish can be described as the cinematic equivalent of the gift shop you’re forced to walk through at the end of the ride. It’s not the worst movie that you will bring your kids to but the obvious goal is to vacuum up more money for the mouse. The film itself is supposed to be honoring 100 years of Disney, with a fairy tale story in the image of past iterations, such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White, only without half of the imagination. A few of the original songs are good, the animation looks crisp, but little interest in giving the audience something fresh. Instead Wish serves up more nostalgia, an empty exercise, resulting in a fairy tale as fleeting as a shooting star.
It begins in the friendly town of Rosas, where the people work together in harmony, while the wizard Magnifico (Chris Pine) has the job of taking the wishes of the people, granting only a select few every year. His new apprentice becomes Asha (Ariana DeBose), a young woman with the hopes of being as good as the man she follows, that is until she gets to know the real Magnifico. When she discovers he refuses to grant wishes that would benefit anyone outside of himself, Asha chooses to wish on a shooting star, who soon visits her with powers she’s never had. Now, with the help of an adorable star, a talking goat, and her seven friends, they must try to stop the power-hungry wizard.
On the surface, Wish seems like a nice and harmless approach to trying to create an original new fairy tale. Sadly, what directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn have is a Broadway play masked as a Disney movie. The screenplay, written by Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Allison Moore steals from the DNA of Frozen, Peter Pan, Bambi, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It’s stolen to a fault, where Asha’s friends all represent one of the Dwarves, including one who sneezes a bunch, one with big dopey ears, and another who loves to sleep. It turns the entire narrative into one big easter egg hunt for all the Disney die-hards, making the originality obsolete, along with minimizing any fresh artistry.
What should not be denied is the incredible talent of Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine. Their vocal work is quite stellar, including the rousing duet “At All Costs” and DeBose’s big belter “This Wish”. If Wish was left to just the two of them delivering dueling songs we might have a better movie, but instead, it becomes a standard process of Asha needing to bring the townspeople together to take down Magnifico as his power grows as strong as Maleficent. It’s also obvious that the goal is to eventually connect Wish to other fairy tales, including a cameo by Peter Pan and a mirror on the wall that might find a way into other far-off lands.
It’s not just the soulless part of Wish that makes it a miss, there are also plot holes, including moments where scenes seem to be missing- that’s something we rarely see in a Disney production. On top of it, there are continuous dollar signs on the screen, from an adorable cuddly star that will end up in a bed with little Suzie, a soundtrack that will garner plenty of streams, and the potential for a stage production that may have worked better than this. It’s a celebration of 100 years of Disney and done in the only way they know possible- all in hopes of making another buck. That’s just a rotten Wish.
WISH OPENED IN THEATERS ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 22ND AND IS CURRENTLY PLAYING EVERYWHERE.
Written by: Leo Brady