'Wish' review: A wish to relish for Disney lovers

Of all the things you could wish for, you had to ask for an extra-large bubble-making machine. — Photos: Handout

Directors: Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn
Voice cast: Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Alan Tudyk, Angelique Cabral, Victor Garber, Natasha Rothwell, Jennifer Kumiyama, Harvey Guillén, Evan Peters, Ramy Youssef, and Jon Rudnitsky.

You know how the song goes: "When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are...". This song from Pinocchio is one of THE great Disney tunes; and the idea that one can wish upon a star to make it come true is what inspired the studio's latest animated feature, Wish.

The movie is set in the kingdom of Rosas, founded by a sorcerer named Magnifico (Chris Pine) to be a utopia for everyone on one condition – when they turn 18, they have to surrender their greatest wish to him for safekeeping, so that he may grant it one day in the future. Nope, not sinister at all.

Meanwhile, Asha (Ariana DeBose) is a 17 year old girl who is fiercely loyal to the kingdom of Rosas, and even applies to become an apprentice to Magnifico in hopes of convincing him to grant her 100 year old grandfather’s wish. But all her idealistic dreams come crashing down upon her when she discovers a darker side to Magnifico’s rule, which no one else wants ot believe.

Out of desperation, she makes a wish upon a star, which calls down an actual magical star, whom she calls, er, Star. But Magnifico has detected a disturbance in the magical force around Rosas as a result of Star’s presence, and will stop at nothing to find it.

Magnifico's crystal ball also doubled as a cool party magic trick.Magnifico's crystal ball also doubled as a cool party magic trick.

In any other year, Wish would have been just another addition to Disney’s pantheon of sweet and charming fairytale features.

But this year is not like any other year – 2023 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Mouse House, and Wish has the unenviable task of having to live up to the expectations of millions of Disney fans expecting something magical from it.

There certainly is something magical about Wish, in the sense that it is a fairytale inspired by other fairy tales, an amalgam of all Disney’s classics, a homage to all the Disney classics of the past.

In short, if you love Disney, then you’ll probably like Wish. One thing is for sure, you will have a lot of fun spotting the Easter eggs and homages they make to Disney's classic animations.

Hey, I thought I was the star of this show!Hey, I thought I was the star of this show!

The music is great too. Juile Michaels’ songs have enough of that magic Disney pixie dust in them to be catchy and memorable.

They probably won’t be as widely popular as those in Encanto and Frozen, but you’ll still be humming them unconsciously for days after that.

It does help that DeBosa’s singing voice is quite lovely, and she manages to channel the hope and idealistic nature of Asha perfectly with her voice acting as well.

She makes for a perfect foil to Pine, who channels Magnifico’s magnificently malevolence marvellously – initially offset by his charismatic charm, but becoming increasingly menacing when he starts breaking bad.

In Wish, Asha makes a wish so powerful, it’s answered by an actual star. — Photos: HandoutIn Wish, Asha makes a wish so powerful, it’s answered by an actual star. — Photos: Handout

However, take off your rose-tinted Mickey Mouse-eared glasses, and Wish falls just short of expectations. It has all the emotions, sweetness, cuteness, fantasy and beautiful animation of all its predecessors, but not quite the heart nor soul of the truly great ones.

There's something about the story that just doesn't quite match the ambition that the animation, music and voice acting warrant. It breezes along too quickly, jumping from set piece to set piece, song to song a little too jarringly, and at times seems more interested in reminding you that it is Disney's 100th year anniversary than it is in telling a story.

But maybe that is the whole point of Wish in the first place. It's not SUPPOSED to create a new classic, but just be one that pays tribuet to the old ones – like a greatest hits album of a classic rock band whose latest album fell a bit short of expectations. Look at it through those eyes, and maybe you'll find the Wish you are looking for.

7.5 10


A greatest hits of Disney classics that just falls short of expectations

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Wish , Disney , animated feature


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