‘Wish’ (2023) a Disney not-so-classic
A story of a young woman, with big dreams, in a kingdom with magic and wonder. Asha, played by Ariana Debose, gets the chance to become the sorcerer’s apprentice. It just so happens that the sorcerer is King Magnifico, played by Chris Pine, ruler of the kingdom of Rosas. A place where people are in a constant state of bliss, as their wishes rest with their benevolent king.
Wish paints a picture of perfection, but it doesn’t take long for the facade to be revealed. As the king takes the wishes of his people, he does so without intent to grant any that could threaten his reign. Moreover, his taking of the wishes results in a state of amnesia, as his subjects remember they had a wish, but can’t recall what it is.
The idea of a villain who takes away aspirations, only to lock them away if they threaten his status quo, is ironic for a studio with its clutches on some of the most popular IP in film history. Disney celebrates a 100 years of magic with a heroine that seeks to destroy the very thing the studio practices today.
The heroine in question is charming. She evokes the spirit of many young people with hopes of joining a prestigious institution, only to be crushed by the reality of its inner workings. Her optimism turns to rebellion as she’s driven to return the trapped wishes to their rightful owners, so they may pursue them come hell or high water. Her unabashed integrity is inspiring, and it doesn’t hurt that her talking goat companion speaks with the affect of a Shakespearean actor.
Leading the charge is Chris Pine who seems to revel in the opportunity to play bad. His indignant rage at the first sign of opposition is frightening, and gets more compelling as he grows increasingly unhinged.
While the film has all the right elements for a Disney classic, there’s something missing from the formula. The songs are more akin to pop hits than the musical earworms of films past. Some of the scenes are a little flat, and in a year of staggering efforts in animation like Across The Spider-Verse and Mutant Mayhem, ‘Wish’ doesn’t match up. Thanks to its heart, the sincerity of its cast, and its unique plot, it’s enough to warrant your attention, but it’s far from a celebration of 100 years of filmmaking.
Rating: Half Price
Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies.