Review: Disney’s newest animated movie Wish proves to be a frustrating and occasionally grating cinematic experience. The sporadic moments of enjoyment, courtesy of lively voice acting and catchy tunes, are overshadowed by the movie’s misguided conceptual foundation and lack of narrative cohesion. Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine shine in an otherwise unworthy film.
Wish, the latest venture from Disney Animation Studios, directed by Chris Buck of Frozen fame and Fawn Veerasunthorn (in her directorial debut), attempts to weave a magical tale of wishes, cosmic forces, and the power of human determination. The movie introduces us to Asha, a sharp and whitty idealist voiced by the talented Ariana DeBose, whose accidental wish sets in motion an adventure alongside her pet goat and a boundless ball of energy called Star. Together, the three of them confront the formidable King Magnifico (Chris Pine) to save Asha’s community and explore the intersection of human will and stellar magic.
To be frank, my journey through Wish was laden with skepticism, given my reservations about recent Disney animated releases. The shadow of tedium that loomed over the Frozen franchise and the formulaic predictability of subsequent films left me wondering if Disney could recapture the magic that once defined its animated classics. As studios like Sony Pictures Animation (Across the Spider-Verse) and Laika (Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings) pushed boundaries, Disney seemed stuck in a creative rut, a sentiment also mirrored in their recent Pixar endeavors, like Soul and Lightyear.
The first impression of Wish does little to assuage these concerns. The animation, while a very slight departure in concept and design, feels like an uneasy marriage of disparate styles. Attempting to blend the charm of old-school 2D Disney animation with contemporary 3D elements, the execution appears haphazard, resulting in a visual mishmash that lacks the cohesive beauty of the studio’s golden era. It’s as if the two styles collide rather than converge effectively.
On top of that, the film’s narrative trajectory is where Wish falters most profoundly. The second song performed in the movie, a duet between Asha and King Magnifico, and sung by Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine respectively, initially appears to be a highlight. Yet, the emotional impact is swiftly undercut by a heavy-handed revelation that feels obvious in execution—Magnifico is more dictator than benevolent leader. This revelation robs the film’s zenith of its emotional resonance, rendering the most compelling moment hollow and inconsequential.
Yet, amidst these visual missteps and narrative blunders, the soundtrack emerges as a beacon of hope. Disney has consistently excelled in crafting memorable musical moments, and Wish may be their best ina while. The melodies are intoxicating, accompanied by powerful cues and striking visuals that momentarily transport audiences to the magic of Disney’s musical legacy.
The thematic exploration in Wish suffers from a lack of nuance, drawing unfortunate parallels to recent Pixar releases like Soul and Lightyear, or Skydance’s Luck from 2022. In attempting to tackle abstract concepts, the film stumbles into the trap of severe over-explanation, relying on exposition dumps that detract from the audience’s ability to organically connect with the story. In contrast, Inside Out, a previous Pixar gem that came to mind, managed to convey its metaphors with purpose and grace, leaving room for interpretation and emotional resonance.
Reviews for Movies like Wish (2023)
While the music stands out, the rest of Wish regrettably feels derivative of its Disney predecessors. Magnifico, portrayed by Chris Pine, emerges as a cartoony, surface-level villain, lacking the depth and authenticity required for a truly compelling antagonist. The supporting cast, including Alan Tudyk as Valentino, Asha’s goat companion, falls victim to predictability, with Valentino resembling a transparent attempt to replicate the success of Olaf from Frozen, or a number of other past Disney sidekicks.
Wish proves to be a frustrating and occasionally grating cinematic experience. The sporadic moments of enjoyment, courtesy of lively voice acting and catchy tunes, are overshadowed by the film’s misguided conceptual foundation and lack of narrative finesse. Despite the commendable efforts of the cast, particularly DeBose and Pine, Wish falls short of delivering the enchanting, innovative experience one would expect from Disney Animation Studios.
While Wish may find success at the box office, it fails to break free from the creative constraints that have plagued recent Disney animated releases, leaving audiences yearning for the groundbreaking spirit that defined the studio’s animated classics. It’s my least favorite movie of theirs in a while, and one that doesn’t have me longing for what they have planned moving forward.
See Wish in theaters November 22nd
Film Cast and Credits
Ariana DeBose as Asha
Chris Pine as King Magnifico
Alan Tudyk as Valentino
Angelique Cabral as Amaya
Victor Garber as Sabino
Natasha Rothwell as Sakina
Composer: Dave Metzger