Review: ‘Wish’

Ariana DeBose And Chris Pine Lend Their Voices To A Disney Tale That's A Shade Of Better Disney Films Of The Past

Disney has always maintained that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. Now in their one-hundredth year as a studio, they are fully cashing in on that idea with the release of their latest feature, Wish. Filled with songs you’d expect from the iconic brand and plenty of easter eggs from its past catalog, the film doesn’t necessarily stand on its own or break any new ground but it doesn’t need to.

Our hero for Disney’s latest 95-minute adventure is Asha (Ariana Debose), a young woman living in the kingdom of Rosas with her grandfather Sabino (Victor Garber), and mother Sakina (Natasha Rothwell). Instead of having a dead mother like many Disney protagonists do, they switched it up and she and her family are grieving her father.

Asha, we find she does all she can to help her village which continues to be a safe haven for refugees and founded by wizard-King Magnifico (Chris Pine) and ruled with the help of his wife Amaya (Angelique Cabral). On their eighteenth birthday, every citizen gives their life’s dream to the king, who watches over them. In exchange, the citizens promptly forget their wishes and Magnifico grants one a month.

When we first meet Asha, she is eager to become Magnifico’s apprentice and though her friends are skeptical, she believes she has what it takes to help others. Of course, her job interview with the king does not go well and she learns that the King does not intend to grant most of the wishes, and instead wants to keep them for himself. Frustrated, Asha sings her frustration to the night sky, summoning an adorable star to come help her and the city fulfill her destiny. 

Wish was directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, the former of whom wrote and co-directed Frozen with Jennifer Lee, who is also a co-writer here. She is joined by co-writer Allison Moore, who is new to the Disney-verse and is mostly known for writing sci-fi thrillers and intense TV dramas. 

The plot feels like a Disney movie. Every event, character, and song feels like a shade from another property. Some of this is by design, characters are named for characters in other projects, Asha’s friends are reimaginings of the dwarves from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, at one point she looks exactly like Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Asha is your typical Disney heroine with no discerning character traits from any of the fictional women the brand has brought us before. However, Ariana DeBose perfectly sounds and embodies a Disney princess/heroine so at least the performance is worth hearing. 

A lot of the backstory, especially Magnifico’s feels underwritten and explained which seems to get written off by the sentiment, “Well, it doesn’t matter. Look at this easter egg from this other film you liked.”  Wish doesn’t feel new or innovative in any way but between talking animals and songs you can belt to, a true Disney fan won’t care.

Wish is in theaters now. Watch the trailer below.

Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
review-wishFor the casual Disney fan, 'Wish' will feel too familiar and derivative as it overly relies on the studios century of work.