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Wish Review: Celebration of Disney’s Legacy Is a Rushed but Charming Animated Musical


Wish is an ambitious swing for Disney, designed to offer fans an event-level experience culminating 100 years of movie-making, attempting to bridge the gap between the classic and the modern. While this animated musical may not meet all of its lofty goals, it still works as a nice, old school Disney movie.

The film follows a young woman who makes a wish on a star, leading her to discover the power of magic and wishing when the wishing star comes to life and joins her on a quest to save her people and their dreams. In many ways, Wish serves as the ultimate origin story for the Disney mythos, and while it’s uneven, you can’t fault it for lack of ambition.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Wish is that it feels very rushed and disjoined. We move from scene to scene in a way that makes it seem like this was made for a preschool audience. With a runtime of just over ninety minutes — including credits — there was definitely plenty of room for them to further enrich this world.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is set in Rosas, a magical kingdom where wishes really do come true. The film introduces Asha, a sharp-witted idealist who’s invited to see first-hand where King Magnifico keeps the wishes of those who’ve entrusted him with their deepest desires. Featuring the voices of Academy Award® winner Ariana DeBose as Asha and Chris Pine as Magnifico, the all-new musical-comedy is helmed by Oscar®-winning director Chris Buck (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (“Raya and the Last Dragon”), produced by Peter Del Vecho (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) and co-produced by Juan Pablo Reyes (“Encanto”). “Wish” opens only in theaters on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Wish is charming, but rushed and a tad generic

There are some interesting themes in the film that older audiences will certainly read into politically. However, it doesn’t bash viewers over their heads with its messaging. Instead, the focus is more on uplifting people and inspiring them to hold onto their dreams — a message that is truly touching in many ways.

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For Disney fans, Wish has as many Easter Eggs — if not more — than an MCU movie has for comic book nerds. Some of them are obvious, like characters appearing, while others are more subtly delivered through quips. However, what is impressive about the film is that it manages not to feel overstuffed or pandering. It’s obviously made with fans in mind, but it doesn’t feel like it’s made *only* for fans.

As has been the case with most recent Disney musicals, there are one or two songs that really stand out in Wish, and the rest are simply okay. The main song, “This Wish,” is the strongest by far, but that’s only reasonable considering that it’s the keystone of the musical. Another song that stood out and could have viral potential is the rallying cry “Knowing What I Know Now.”

In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish,” King Magnifico is the most powerful person in the kingdom of Rosas, where wishes really do come true. People come from everywhere to give their wishes to Magnifico, a charming and confident king who promises to grant their deepest desires—someday. But the king isn’t entirely altruistic; he alone decides whose wish will be granted, and he relishes the control. Featuring the voice of Chris Pine as King Magnifico, the epic animated musical “Wish” hits the big screen on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

In terms of performances, Ariana DeBose does a fine job in the lead. Her talents on display here are more centered around her musical performances than her acting, but she’s still very charming throughout. Outside of the musical numbers, she’s definitely not the most distinct, but she gets the job done.

As the villain, Chris Pine absolutely understands the assignments. He gives a voice performance that’s big, hammy, and filled with personality, elevating a character that was written somewhat generically into one that feels surprisingly layered. And while his villain song, “This Is the Thanks I Get?!” is not the strongest from a songwriting standpoint, his vocals are good.

The animation in Wish has some ups and downs. Although there are some unquestionably beautiful scenes, the movie is attempting to merge the classical with the modern, and it doesn’t always work. It’s also disappointing how generic the world of Rosas feels, outside of the inspiration from the iconic Disney logo.

Wish definitely isn’t among the strongest of Disney’s output, and considering that it’s the grand finale of the Disney 100 celebration, maybe it could or should have been more. However, it’s hard to deny that the film is at least charming, and often even downright moving.

Wish hits theaters on November 22.

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Rating: 7/10

7 Out of 10

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Written by Sean Boelman

Sean is a film critic, filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include music documentaries, heist movies, and experimental horror.