Adventure Animation

Review: ‘Wish’ is a Modern-Day Fairy Tale that Draws from the Past while Providing Inspiration for the Future

November 17, 2023Ben MK

For 100 years, Disney has been helping children everywhere realize their most fantastical wishes, by letting them live vicariously through the animated adventures of some of their most well-known and beloved protagonists. Whether it's traditional princesses like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Ariel, or their male counterparts like Peter Pan, Robin Hood and Tarzan, the list of unforgettable Disney classics is virtually endless. And now, arriving just in time to mark the studio's centennial comes Wish, a film that promises to be the ultimate celebration of a century of Disney movie magic.

Set in the magical island kingdom of Rosas, the story follows Asha (Ariana DeBose), a 17-year-old girl from a humble family whose father passed away 5 years earlier. Raised by her kindhearted mother Sakina (Natasha Rothwell) and her kindly old grandfather Sabino (Victor Garber), who also happens to be turning 100, Asha, like everyone else in Rosas, has always been in awe of the kingdom's supreme ruler, King Magnifico (Chris Pine), the powerful, self-taught sorcerer who founded Rosas, and who also uses his magic to keep and protect the most heartfelt wishes of his citizens. But when Asha discovers that Magnifico's benevolent reign is not quite what it appears to be, it sends her on a quest to challenge the norm and upturn the kingdom's status quo, as she sets out to do the unfathomable — free the wishes under Magnifico's spell and return them to their rightful owners.

Accompanied by her trusty pet goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk), Asha encounters a star that has journeyed billions of light years from the heavens to find her. This is no ordinary star, however. And with its magical abilities to help both flora and fauna communicate as humans do, its very existence poses a threat to Magnifico, who embarks on his own misguided quest to quash what he believes to be an uprising against him. Hellbent on retaining ultimate control over Rosas and all who call it home, Magnifico finds himself resorting to the one thing he promised he would never touch — dark magic. But once he gets a taste of it, will he ever be able to turn back? And will Asha and her friends be able to stand tall against this dictatorial overlord, who will stop at nothing until he has harnessed the power of everyone's wishes to make him the most mighty person in the kingdom?

Written by Jennifer Lee and Allison Moore and directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, the result is an enchanting, original tale that also pays tribute to Walt Disney Animation's impressive, 100-year legacy by weaving in nods — some quite subtle, and others not so much — to the studio's various animated masterpieces. From talking deer and rabbits reminiscent of Bambi to a group of characters bearing a striking resemblance to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves — and even a casual Zootopia reference thrown in for good measure — keen-eyed moviegoers will delight in spotting the Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie. Still, it's Wish's toe-tapping, sing-along-worthy selection of songs that will no doubt prove to be the film's star attraction.

Factor in the truly stellar performances from the movie's diverse voice cast, and it all adds up to a storybook fairy tale that succeeds in its attempt to honor the past while providing ample inspiration for future generations. After all, bringing together a century of animated achievements and using them as a springboard for a fresh and engaging new adventure is no small feat. Nevertheless, Wish does so with aplomb. And in doing so, it also manages something genuinely special — securing its very own spot amid that timeless legacy.

Wish releases November 22nd, 2023 from Walt Disney Studios. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for thematic elements and mild action. Its runtime is 1 hr. 32 min.

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