Review: Disney’s ‘Wish’ Falls Short in Marking Its 100th Anniversary

Disney Animation’s 62nd film, “Wish,” arrives as the studio commemorates its 100th anniversary, aiming to pay homage to its rich history of enchanting storytelling. However, despite the celebration and the studio’s legacy, “Wish” falls short, emerging as one of the least magical animated films from Walt Disney Animation Studios in recent years.

At the heart of “Wish” is the theme of wishing, a concept deeply intertwined with Disney’s animated legacy. The story unfolds in the kingdom of Rosas, ruled by King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine) and Queen Amaya (Angelique Cabral). King Magnifico possesses the power to grant wishes, a tradition where citizens submit their desires on their 18th birthday. Asha (Ariana DeBose), a 17-year-old resident, seeks to become the apprentice to King Magnifico. However, her journey takes a turn when she discovers the flawed nature of the wish-granting process, setting the stage for a new adventure within the Disney canon.

While “Wish” boasts notable voice performances, particularly Chris Pine’s portrayal of the villainous King Magnifico and Ariana DeBose’s lively performance as Asha, the film falters in key areas. The songs, a hallmark of Disney’s musical tradition, lack the memorability and emotional resonance expected from the studio. Penned by Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice, the tracks, including DeBose’s “This Wish” and Pine’s “This Is the Thanks I Get?!”, fail to leave a lasting impact, falling short of the high musical standards set by recent Disney successes like “Encanto.”

Visually, “Wish” attempts to blend the 2D and 3D animation styles, a nod to Disney’s evolving animation techniques over the years. However, the amalgamation results in a peculiar and somewhat unnatural aesthetic, reminiscent of early 2000s DreamWorks films rather than the timeless Disney classics. While the film occasionally introduces animation concepts reminiscent of “Sleeping Beauty,” the inconsistent style leaves “Wish” feeling more outdated than nostalgic.

The screenplay, co-written by Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and Allison Moore, fails to capture the magic associated with Disney storytelling. Asha’s character lacks depth, reducing her to a mere plot device rather than an engaging protagonist. The screenplay’s reliance on generic clichés, self-referential jokes, and bizarre plot holes contributes to the film’s overall disappointment. Even attempts to incorporate references to Disney’s history, such as characters resembling Bambi and Thumper or nods to Cinderella and Peter Pan, feel forced and unnecessary.

Despite its shortcomings, “Wish” does showcase strengths in its voice performances, with Pine infusing life into the character of King Magnifico, and DeBose bringing energy to her role. The supporting cast, including Harvey Guillén, Evan Peters, Ramy Youssef, and Alan Tudyk, adds depth to Asha’s journey.

In conclusion, “Wish” struggles to live up to the high standards set by Disney over the past century. The film’s lackluster musical offerings, inconsistent visual style, and generic screenplay make it an underwhelming addition to Disney’s illustrious animation legacy. As the studio continues its centennial celebration, “Wish” stands out as a missed opportunity to create a memorable and magical cinematic experience.

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