Wish (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, written by Jennifer Lee, Allison Moore and Chris Buck and starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Alan Tudyk, Angelique Cabral, Victor Garber, Natasha Rothwell, Jennifer Kumiyama, Harvey Guillen, Niko Vargas, Evan Peters, Ramy Youssef, Jon Rudnitsky, Della Saba, Keone Young, Holland Watkins and Efe.
Wish, directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, is a Disney film with a “once upon a time…” and a “happily ever after” structure but it is, nevertheless, delightful to behold thanks to the charisma of yet another Disney heroine who audiences will adore– Asha (the charismatic voice of Oscar winner Ariana DeBose). Asha is the type of confused, awkward and sweet, yet smart, character that audiences will love because she’s absolutely easy to relate to. Set in the Kingdom of Rosas, Asha needs to rise above her ordinary character traits to save the day and restore order to the Kingdom after its leader, King Magnifico (Chris Pine) is found out to be a man of less than admirable qualities. Wish creates a memorable animated world that will engage the viewer from beginning to end.
As the film’s main story begins, our teenage heroine, Asha, is interviewing for a position with King Magnifico as his apprentice. She’s admitting to him that she has weaknesses but she also has strengths which would make her suitable for the position. Asha’s grandfather, Sabino (Victor Garber) has just turned 100 years old and Asha believes that Sabino should get a wish in a land where Magnifico supposedly thrives on granting wishes. Asha starts to see that Magnifico isn’t as noble as she initially believed him to be and a star comes down from the sky who will make a significant difference in the world of Rosas. This “star” is a character who is sweet and kind-hearted and has the power to make Asha’s goat, Valentino (Alan Tudyk) speak and say some hilarious things that will have younger viewers, in particular, laughing out loud.
The villain in Wish feels different from past Disney villains. Pine gives the vocals of Magnifico unpredictability in the early stages of the movie where viewers could feel that he’s salvageable as a character but as the plot progresses, that turns out not to be the case. Pine adds complexity to Magnifico which makes him a strong villain. As Amaya, Magnifico’s wife, Angelique Cabral adds some distinct character traits to her voice-over role. Amaya is a woman of integrity who must learn to cope with the fact that Magnifico was out to fulfill his own wicked schemes regarding taking away the wishes of other people.
The songs in Wish are of the highest caliber with memorable lyrics which audiences will be humming on their way out of the theater. DeBose gets the character of Asha so right that she becomes one of the best Disney characters of the past several years. DeBose gives Asha heart above all else and that ferocious passion that lives within the young girl DeBose plays comes to life effectively on the screen.
With the addition of Valentino and Star, the viewer gets to have a lot of fun with the story line as well. Of course, we know that the Star’s time with Asha will be limited but the movie doesn’t turn too sappy or become too sentimental. Instead, the film moves forward with elegance and sophistication that actually makes the movie more effective than it would have been with an abundance of sentimentality. Jennifer Kumiyama is also effective in her voice-over work as Dahlia who is Asha’s trusted confidante.
If there is a flaw in Wish, it’s that the action moves so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the abundance of characters interwoven throughout the movie. That same problem was evident a bit in Encanto but the large amount of supporting characters doesn’t detract much from the quality of the film. Valentino and Star are so much fun to watch that they feel like they could have been in two different movies—one character in each. So, audiences will feel lucky to have two great non-human supporting players alongside Asha here.
The ending of Wish has some great ideas sprinkled in and the ending credits offer viewers a throwback to Disney characters of the past, including the display of almost every one of them that you could think of as the names roll at the end. It’s an inspired way to end the old-fashioned Wish which is as endearing and entertaining as these movies come.
DeBose and Pine are a dream team who complement each other perfectly through their characterizations in the film. Every song is matched by visuals that enhance the material which, in turn, makes it more engaging for the viewer. In the end, Wish is the type of holiday movie that audiences will be thankful for.
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