During the holiday season, there's nothing quite like the magic of a new Disney film in theaters. The latest release, Wish, directed by Academy Award winner Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, is scripted by Jennifer Lee and Allison Moore. The film's songs were penned by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Julia Michaels and Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/musician Benjamin Rice, with an original score composed by Dave Metzger.
The musical comedy welcomes audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha (Ariana DeBose), a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe, the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico (Chris Pine), to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen. Assisting Asha on her journey is her favorite goat, Valentino (Alan Tudyk).
After watching the teaser trailer for Wish, I immediately thought the movie would be a tribute to Disney's earlier films. Moreover, upon learning that the captivating Ariana DeBose would be the lead for the film's voice cast and that the team that brought us Frozen was working on the project, my expectations became even higher.
Wish starts promising enough, giving us a backstory on King Magnifico and introducing us to Asha and her family. The audience soon learns that the residents of the land must entrust Magnifico with their greatest Wish on their 18th birthday. Once a month, he selects a special wish and uses his magical power to fulfill it. Asha, aged 17, is about to undergo the same ceremony and hopes to be accepted by the ruler as an apprentice.
During the interview, Asha and the ruler quickly connected, and everything seemed to go smoothly. However, Asha soon learns that Magnifico, the ruler, has been stealing people's wishes and only granting those that pose no threat to him. This revelation horrifies Asha and sets our plot in motion.
Upon watching the film, it becomes apparent that its visual appeal is one of its standout features. Initially, the animation was planned to be entirely traditional, but due to limitations in camera movements and characterization, it was ultimately decided to blend traditional animation with computer-generated imagery.
Ariana DeBose and Alan Tudyk deliver strong performances with their voice work, and it's always a pleasure to hear Victor Garber and Natasha Rothwell on screen. However, Chris Pine goes overboard with his portrayal of the King, turning the character into a toxic version of his role from Into the Woods. I also found the songs underwhelming, as nothing grabbed my attention enough to add to a playlist.
Wish is a short Disney animated film. The pacing can be slow sometimes, but it's full of Easter eggs from classic Disney films, like Snow White, Bambi, Mary Poppins, and Peter Pan. Some end-credit roll calls for recent characters also make admission worth the price.
Despite the cliches and lack of magic for me, younger fans will find something to enjoy Wish.
Final Grade: C+
Wish is in theaters now.