A love letter to the history of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Wish delivers a story full of magic, wonder, humor, and heart; honoring its past and present, while looking ahead to the future.
Wish Movie Review
In the magical Kingdom of Rosas, wishes really do come true thanks to its leader, King Magnifco (Chris Pine). 17-year-old Asha (Ariana DeBose) dreams of becoming Magnifico's apprentice, a job that she thinks would mean bringing joy to her community. She quickly realizes that Magnifico isn't the benevolent ruler he pretends to be. One night she makes a plea to the stars for help to save the Kingdom. She never expected the stars to answer though. So when Star, an actual Wishing Star, falls from the sky, set on helping grant Asha's wish, she is more than a little surprised. Together with Asha's pet goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk), they work to bring an end to Magnifico's schemes.
Directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, Wish is a love letter to Disney Animation’s storied history that takes care to honor the films that started it all while also looking to the future. It captures the magic of Disney storytelling with catchy songs, a beautiful mix of hand-drawn and computer generated images, and a story full of wonder, humor, and heart. Keen-eyed fans will also delight in catching the various Disney easter eggs and nods found throughout the film from the obvious Hidden Mickey to the subtle. The characters are new yet familiar and the assembled cast brings them to life that makes them shine as bright as the wishing star. By returning to its roots and with the addition of this style of animation, Wish feels like it was made with the Disney Renaissance kids in mind. Those of us who grew up in the era of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast, Wish feels like a big warm hug from an old friend.
When the teaser was first released, what instantly stuck out was the animation. A hybrid of 2D and 3D animation, Wish takes a fresh approach, moving away from the hyperrealism of their newest hits and back to where it all started. By blending the two together, Wish honors Disney's past and present offerings, giving fans of classic animation something they have been waiting for since 2011's Winnie the Pooh (or even before that). The Kingdom of Rosas is stunningly detailed, like something out of a pop-up storybook. Backgrounds come alive with beautiful watercolors and fine line work, the type of stylization Disney developed at the very beginning of its history. Among the talented animators working on this project, longtime fans will be excited to see the names of Mark Henn and Eric Goldberg listed during the credits. The artists responsible for some of our greatest Disney memories were on hand for this project as well.
DeBose is Disney voice casting perfection as Asha. She infuses the character with a charming quirkiness and determination. Asha is warm, caring, and relatable. Her dulcet tones are punctuated with passion as Asha sings out her I want and demands something better for her community. Leaving behind the mantle of Disney Prince, Pine is gleefully enjoying being the villain. He plays Magnifico as alluring and oozing with confidence, causing many in Rosas to swoon. That is before he turns to the dark side of sorcery, with Pine growling out his demands as he pursues the traitor amongst his people. Valentino is a great side kick, voiced with gusto by Tudyk, who seems to be everywhere in the Disney canon. Tudyk always brings something unique to his VoiceOver roles and this plucky goat is no different. Valentino is a baby goat with a deep voice and facial expressions that are comedic gold. Along with the rest of the ensemble cast, Wish hit the Disney sweet spot with talent, meaning there are no weak links no matter how many lines they deliver.
The story by Jennifer Lee, Allison Moore, and Chris Buck is full of whimsy and wonder, deeply connected to Disney lore and the essence of fairytales. Fairytales are meant to be universal stories, ones that resonate with everyone no matter their age or gender. Like the classics before it, Wish does just that, with its themes of community, growing up and finding out the world isn't this picturesque place you thought it was. Asha teaches us that being a hero isn't easy. No one is perfect, but it's our willingness to try and our positive support systems that can make all the difference. It's what allows people to stand up and make a wish for something more.
It would not be a Disney musical without catchy songs that are bound to end up on repeat. Songwriting duo Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice have penned several standouts including This Wish, a moving and empowering “I want” song, performed by DeBose. The Reprise for This Wish is what made me tear up, just warning you now. For his big villain number, Pine lets loose in This Is The Thanks I Get?! A song that goes from King Magnifico begging for praise like Gaston to Poor Unfortunate Souls sorcery within a few bars. Knowing What I Know Now, sung by Asha and her friends, charges the room with the energy of fight songs like I'll Make a Man Out of You. Moving in tandem with the story are the playful and emotional swells of Dave Metzger's score. This isn't his first trip into the world of Disney as Metzger's resume includes hits like Moana, Frozen, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Gorgeous backdrops, whimsical scenes, snappy songs, and endearing characters, Disney's Wish checks all the boxes for Disney kids and adults of all ages. Celebrating 100 years of the company, Wish encompasses Disney's flair for storytelling that has resonated with every generation since Steamboat Willie let out a whistle on screen in 1928. A love letter to Disney Animation’s storied history that takes care to honor the films that started it all as well as modern hits, Wish is truly the best of both worlds. As a longtime hand-drawn animation fan, I hope this signals the start of a new visual style for Disney as we usher in a new era of Disney magic.
Wish releases in theaters November 22. It is rated PG for thematic elements and mild action. with a runtime of 92 minutes.