Wish soared into theaters over the Thanksgiving holiday and we were there to see if it’s worth checking out.
Wish is Disney’s 62nd animated feature film and it’s been highly anticipated as it was released as part of the year-long celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary. The story is set in the island kingdom of Rosas, a land where wishes can literally come true. 17 year-old Asha (Ariana DeBose) is hoping to become the apprentice to King Magnifico (Chris Pine), but her life is turned upside down after she makes a wish on a star…and the star responds.
Ever since I talked to composer David Metzger about his work on the soundtrack for Wish, I’ve been curious to see if this story lived up to the hype surrounding it. There have been more than a few duds at the box office this year, so it’s understandable I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.
But then I saw Wish in theaters. And I was amazed!
Wish is absolutely delightful! It’s a story about magic and the power of wishes, and how that power can do great things, both good and evil, depending on who is wielding it. This story truly is the culmination of 100 years of Disney magic, and it shows in almost every frame of the story. In all seriousness, audiences could spend multiple rewatches trying to catalogue every last Easter Egg reference hidden in this film. Some of them were a little too on the nose (more on that later) but for the most part they’re adorable treats for long-time fans of Disney to discover.
One of the true highlights of the film is Chris Pine’s performance as King Magnifico. Pine is a natural at playing a Disney villain, hamming it up in the best way possible, especially during his big villain number “This is the Thanks I Get?!” His talents really shine through in the film’s latter half when his actions become more and more frantic. Magnifico is a prime example of how power can corrupt the best of intentions and Pine plays this part up to the hilt.
Then there’s Ariana DeBose as Asha, our heroine. Honestly, this film is worth seeing for her performance alone. Asha is so relatable: she’s on the verge of adulthood and when she finds out the world is broken she wants to make things right. How many of us have wanted to be just like Asha at one point or another? The difference is, Asha gets the ability to make a difference with the help of the wishing star and it’s exciting to see what she gets to do with its help. Asha also has some of the best Disney songs that I’ve heard in several years, including “This Wish” which should absolutely become a new favorite in the Disney canon for years to come.
The art style in Wish is a sight to behold as well. I’m reasonably certain the visuals are computer generated, but they’re filled in like a watercolor painting, giving the film something of a 2.5D visual effect. It’s beautiful, vibrant and definitely unique, setting Wish apart from the recent CGI Disney films. Speaking of a unique style, Star, the wishing star that helps Asha, is one of the most delightful Disney characters I’ve seen in recent years. They’re funny and endearing and easily one of the best highlights of the film.
Then there’s the music. My goodness, the music in Wish is amazing. I don’t think I’ve vibed so completely with a Disney film’s soundtrack since Moana came out in 2016. All of the songs are full of life and very catchy. My particular favorites are “This Wish” and “This is the Thanks I Get?!” but truthfully I loved all of them. It felt like a classic Disney musical with a modern twist.
The one detail I have to gripe about is some of the Easter Eggs hidden in the film were a little too noticeable. There’s one in particular that I’d love to talk about at length, but to avoid spoilers all I’ll say is that it involves Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If you’ve ever seen that movie, it’ll probably jump out at you. The thing with some of these Easter Eggs is, while they’re all cute, some of them so noticeably refer to other films or characters that they risk taking the audience out of the moment.
That aside, I can’t state strongly enough how much Wish needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible. It’s a lovely homage to everything that got Disney to this point and I feel it’s a sign that the old Disney magic is alive and well. In conclusion, Wish is a callback to the glory days of Disney that will leave you feeling like you’re a kid in the movie theater again.