top of page

Movie Review - Disney's Wish

Be careful what you wish for.

Wish is a 2023 musical fantasy film directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, written by Jennifer Lee and Allison Moore, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film stars Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine.


"Who is ready to have their wish granted?" - King Magnifico

Plot


A young girl named Asha is training to be apprentice to Magnifico, the benevolent sorcerer king of Rosas who grants the wishes of his kingdom. When Asha discovers that Magnifico is hiding a dark secret, she makes a wish upon a star to save Rosas from their corrupt ruler.


The Sweet


For those of you who don't know, Wish is essentially the culmination of the Disney 100 celebration. This is Disney's tribute feature film that pays homage to the studio's illustrious, magical history.


The film is intentionally very reminiscent of classic Disney movies. Asha is a combination between the vast catalog of Disney princesses, while Magnifico is a tribute to the vast catalog of Disney villains. The story and characters are familiar, but that's the charm of the film.


It's difficult to put into words how much Disney means to me. I absolutely adore this studio and it's long history of animation. So, when they announced that Wish was going to be a love letter to the entire Disney canon, I was immediately on board. And, unsurprisingly, that was one of my favorite aspects of the film. From the opening credits to the mix of the 2-D and 3-D animation to the characters and the story, everything is one big homage to Walt Disney Animation. There are references galore, but the key thing is the classical feel that this movie brings. This is the first traditional Disney princess movie in a while, and it embraces the old-timey nature of those iconic stories.


I think both Asha and King Magnifico were great additions to the Disney legacy. Asha feels like a mix between princesses of the past with the warrior women of today. There are shades of Cinderella and Aurora, but there's also plenty of Moana and Elsa in her. She was a fantastic lead character. But the true star of the show is King Magnifico. Magnifico feels like the first classic Disney villain since Mother Gothel in Tangled. He draws from characters like Maleficent and Jafar and the Evil Queen, but has something new with Chris Pine's signature charm. The two of them combined made for a great hero-villain pair.


I also thought the way that they did these homages to Disney was fantastic. Some of the easter eggs were more obvious, but plenty of them were subtle. It never overtook the story. It never felt like fan service. It felt right. The subtlety of these references just added little dashes of nostalgia, rounding out this movie as an incredibly entertaining tribute to Disney.


I also think this is a formula Disney needs to return to a little bit more. Don't get me wrong: Encanto, Moana, Zootopia, Big Hero 6...all very good to great movies. But there's something about the magical Disney princess fantasy story that has a special place in the hearts of so many. Yes, Wish is derivative of plenty of movies that came before it. But it wears that on its sleeve, and I think that works in the movie's favor rather than against it.


The Sour


The primary criticism of Wish is that it's never as good as the movies that it is trying to emulate. And I agree with that. It doesn't bother me as much as it clearly bothers other critics, but Wish is definitely one of Disney's weaker princess fantasy movies. You have to keep in mind, however, that Disney's princess fantasy movies are incredible. It's hard to live up to Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Moana, Frozen, etc. People who thought that Wish was going to live up to some of the greatest animated movies of all time just had too high of expectations.


I do think there are a few things about Wish that don't work. The first is the soundtrack. I put it in the Sour section, but I'm more mixed on it. There are two songs that I thought were really good: This is the Thanks I Get and Knowing What I Know Now are cool. I wouldn't call them instant classics or anything, but I think they are good. The others are not up to the Disney standard. There's nothing on the level of Let It Go or We Don't Talk About Bruno or even You're Welcome or Almost There. They are just mostly forgettable. And that was disappointing.


I also think the side characters in this film are pretty weak. It feels like they wanted every side character to be an homage to something, so none of them have their own distinct personality traits or something memorable that they do. Valentino, the talking goat, is just a generic Disney animal sidekick. Asha's friends are one big reference to the dwarfs from Snow White, so that's the only thing that they really stick out for. Asha's family is forgettable. The queen is forgettable. It's like the writers poured all of their power into Asha and King Magnifico and had just ran out of juice by the time they decided to write the supporting cast.


Finally, I don't think this movie is ever as funny or as emotional as it wants to be. The magic of Disney movies is that they are meant for families. They can be fun, funny watches for kids while also having an emotional undercurrent for adults. While Wish is both funny and emotional at times, it never quite reaches the heights that it seems like it's aiming for.


Final Thoughts and Score


Disney's Wish is a fun, beautifully animated tribute to the world's greatest face of childhood entertainment and nostalgia. Is it as good as I wanted it to be? No. Is it still pretty good? Yes.


I will go Savory here. Age range is 4+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


"Wish"


Fun Factor: 9/10

Acting: 7.5/10

Story: 7.5/10

Characters: 7.5/10

Quality: 7.5/10


Directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn


Rated PG for animated violence, disturbing images, thematic elements


Released on November 22, 2023


1 hour and 35 minutes


Ariana DeBose as Asha

Chris Pine as King Magnifico

Alan Tudyk as Valentino

Angelique Cabral as Queen Amaya

Victor Garber as Sabino

Natasha Rothwell as Sakina

Jennifer Kumiyama as Dahlia

Harvey Guillén as Gabo

Niko Vargas as Hal

Evan Peters as Simon

Ramy Youssef as Safi

Jon Rudnitsky as Dario

Della Saba as Bazeema

bottom of page