Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 23, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen Review: Wish

Review: Wish

Maximus Woodley praises the self-referential elements of Disney's Wish as a 100th Anniversary film, but notes the otherwise disappointing lack of intriguing content.
2 mins read
Written by
Wish | Official Trailer | Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Disney is often credited with saying, “All our dreams can come true.” This is not a misquote, but it does omit a crucial sub-clause, which followed his statement: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Wish, Disney’s newest animated feature, portrays the detrimental effect that neglecting to strive for our aspirations has on us.

People immigrate to the city of Rosas, ruled by the sorcerer Magnifico, in the hopes of having their wishes fulfilled by the king. Upon settling on the island, they must give their wish (physically embodied by a blue, glowing orb) to Magnifico, simultaneously relinquishing them from any memory of what their dream was. Once a month, a supposedly random wish is selected and granted. That is until, Asha, our heroine, discovers that Magnifico only chooses wishes that pose no threat to his rule.

With the help of a wishing star and a talking goat, Asha sets out to free the wishes locked in Magnifico’s tower, hoping to restore the greatest parts of the townsfolk’s selves: their dreams.

It is a fitting story for a studio celebrating, ‘100 Years of Wonder.’ A fact that the film refuses to let you forget. Before the title cards roll, the cinema is played a short montage of footage from the Disney parks and films that made you fall in love with the brand. That playing with your nostalgia will keep biting you throughout its hour and a half runtime.

Wish begins with a beautifully bound story book, magically opening by itself. The camera tracks in on the first page, ready for the narrator to proclaim the immortal, ‘Once upon a time,’ reminiscent of the early classics, stretching all the way back to their first – Snow White (1937).

There is a deer called Bambi, a boy named Peter who dreams of building a flying machine, and an egotistical king who asks, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the handsomest of them all?” Post-modern self-referential humour is not uncommon in many of Disney’s recent works (the comical Disney Princesses scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) being a personal favourite), but this takes the game to a new level. The credits roll with a font evocative of the style used for the title cards in Cinderella (1950), the margins holding characters from every previous Disney animated feature.

Post-modern self-referential humour is not uncommon in many of Disney’s recent works (the comical Disney Princesses scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) being a personal favourite), but this takes the game to a new level.

In this way, Wish, as a 100-year anniversary celebration, seems strong. This is good, because it barely holds its own as a film on its own merits.

Asha is likeable; her talking goat, Valentino, made me chuckle once or twice, and her other irresistibly playful sidekick, Star, really is the star of the show. But there is a bloated cast of friends and family beyond this stable triangle. I did not care for any of them, I would be hard pressed to name even one of these planks of wood.

In this way, Wish, as a 100-year anniversary celebration, seems strong. This is good, because it barely holds its own as a film on its own merits.

The villain is genuinely scary… until he starts singing like a member of NSYNC. This speaks to a larger issue within Disney’s recent musicals, the Lin-Manuel Miranda effect. Though he did not directly have a hand in this project, and I do greatly enjoy Hamilton (2020) and Moana (2016), it seems the legacy he has recently left of creating Disney music with modern and rap influences lives on. As far as I am aware, Walt Disney and Snoop Dogg never sat around collaborating on Sleeping Beauty (1959).

That being said, despite some jarring musical moments, I did enjoy some of the songs. The rousing reprise of This Wish, in the film’s climactic finale, did manage to get a tear out of me.

Ultimately, Wish is a step in the right direction, for a company that has foundered creatively in recent years. It is a safe bet as a 100-year package deal; but Disney still has a way to go before reclaiming their throne as king of emotive and original storytelling. I hope they make it, that’s my wish.

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