Alan Tudyk, Angelique Cabral, animation, Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Della Saba, Evan Peters, Harvey Guillen, Jennifer Kumiyama, Jon Rudnitsky, movies, Natasha Rothwell, Niko Vargas, Ramy Youssef, reviews, Victor Garber, Wish
November 17, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn
Culture Representation: Taking place on a fictional Iberian Peninsula island called Rosas, the animated film “Wish” features a racially diverse cast of characters white, black, Latin, and Asian) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.
Culture Clash: A 17-year-old girl battles with an egotistical and corrupt king over his control of granting people’s wishes.
Culture Audience: “Wish” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of Disney animation and don’t mind watching an extremely formulaic Disney film.
As a Disney animated film, “Wish” is more forgettable than iconic. Even with a talented cast, the movie’s plot, characters, and songs are generic and derivative. Its references to other Disney movies look more like shameless shilling than fond reminiscing.
Directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, “Wish” is a movie that blandly goes through the motions with its simple plot and Disney self-promotion. The movie’s very formulaic screenplay was co-written by Jennifer Lee and Allison Moore. Buck and Lee are the directors of Disney’s Oscar-winning 2013 blockbuster “Frozen” and 2019 mega-hit “Frozen II.” Unfortunately, “Wish” is nowhere near the quality of these two “Frozen” movies.
The protagonist and narrator of “Wish” is 17-year-old Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose), who lives on a fictional Iberian Peninsula island called Rosas. Asha lives with her widowed mother Sakina (voiced by Natasha Rothwell) and her paternal grandfather Sabino (voiced by Victor Garber), who is about to turn 100 years old. You know you’re watching a Disney animated film about a plucky heroine if at least one of her parents is dead.
The ruler of Rosas is King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine), a sorcerer who abuses his magical power to grant wishes for people, by allowing only one person a month to get a wish. These wishes look like bubbles, where Magnifico can envision what the wishes are. Sabino is still waiting to get his wish granted.
Not knowing how corrupt and vain King Magnifico is, Asha applies for a job to be his assistant. During the interview process, Asha sees Magnifico’s nasty temper and his obsessive need for control. Asha’s best friend is a royal servant named Dahlia (voiced by Jennifer Kumiyama), who is a cook in the kitchen at the king’s palace.
King Magnifico’s loyal and loving wife Amaya (voiced by Angelique Cabral) is very supportive of him, because she doesn’t see his true personality. It’s a little hard to believe that a queen whose entire life seems to revolve around her king (Amaya isn’t shown doing anything else but being a wife) hasn’t noticed how he abuses his power with these wishes.
And because “Wish” is a very predictable Disney animated film, there’s a wisecracking talking animal or non-human sidekick for the protagonist. It’s a donkey named Valentino (voiced by Alan Tyduk), who is Asha’s constant companion. Another Disney animation cliché: a cute and mute ally to the protagonist. In “Wish,” it’s a golden star named Star, who is summoned from the sky after Asha makes a wish.
Asha has several friends who are mostly forgettable. Here’s how these characters and their voice cast members are described in the “Wish” production notes: “Harvey Guillén as the outspoken-but-heartfelt cynic Gabo; Niko Vargas as quick-with-a-smile optimist Hal; Evan Peters as strong-but-sleepy guy Simon; Ramy Youssef as Asha’s allergy-plagued pal Safi; Jon Rudnitsky as her kind and wiggly-eared friend Dario; and Della Saba as shy-but-surprising sweetheart Bazeema.” One of these pals will betray Asha in a plot development that has absolutely no suspense.
“Wish” also has no surprises, as it plods along from one scene to the next. The action sequences are unremarkable. The dialogue is often terribly written. The voice performances are average overall, although DeBose’s singing is among the few highlights of “Wish.” The movie’s visuals are not very impressive.
“Wish” also fails to have one outstanding song that will become a beloved classic. (Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice co-wrote the seven original and disappointing songs for “Wish.”) If a Disney animated musical film does not have at least one amazing song that can be easily be remembered after the movie is over, then you know how lackluster and unimaginative the movie is.
Walt Disney Pictures will release “Wish” in U.S. cinemas on November 22, 2023. A sneak preview of the movie will be shown in U.S. cinemas on November 18, 2023.