‘So I make this WISH, to have something more for us than this…’


Wish (2023) is an American musical fantasy directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn. It is adapted from a story conceived by both directors alongside Jennifer Lee, and Alison Moore. The screenplay was written by the latter two.

Set in the Kingdom of Rosas, under the totalitarian rule of sorcerer Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine), the story follows 17-year-old Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) who in a time of need wishes upon the stars. This desperate plea leads her to encounter a living, fallen star whose very presence disrupts the ‘comfortable’ balance of Rosas, resulting in chaos. 

To entertain, inform, and inspire are just a few of Disney’s values which shines throughout their films and community emphasised in their famous slogan ‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.’ So creating a film that embodies these principles is as a sweet way of honouring their 100th anniversary.

The film’s visuals are refreshing with an animation style that is a nostalgic blend between of 2D and CGI, echoing back to a time where traditional Cel animation was the norm. The characters are also diverse in both presentation and personality. For example, Dahlia (Jennifer Kumiyama) is both Asian and disabled which is also reflective of her voice actor who is a wheelchair user.

There are also some fun Easter eggs integrated throughout. An excellent example is when Asha makes her wish on the cliff, the wind blows past her hair, reminiscent of the ‘Colors of the Wind’ sequence in Pocahontas (1995). The film’s referential nature is once again illustrated when we see a horse that bears a striking resemblance to Maximus from Tangled (2010). These references aren’t relegated to the characters but shown through dialogue as well. For example Magnifico says ‘How about Neverland’ whilst destroying a villager’s wish for a fantasy land. This is a reference to the Peter Pan franchise.

What really solidified the nostalgia is the end credits whereby snippets of all of Disney’s characters are displayed. The ultimate homage to the legacy of films that have raised generations of children.

Despite its aesthetic process, the film falters when it comes to the plot. Even though it is easy to follow, it’s too simplistic and stereotypical. It’s the usual narrative of a character (usually female) attempting to please everyone around them, and a villain who just wants power. These two archetypes inevitably clash due to their diverging desires and since it’s Disney, there’ll definitely be a few singing sequences. Despite the entertainment value, its overfamiliar plot beats undermine the conflict’s menacing potential, making the obstacles feel more like set dressing.

We also don’t receive much insight regarding Asha’s relationship with her dad, rendering his character insignificant to the entire story.

I believe that Disney should be striving to break out of their creatively stifling comfort zone and aspire to platform stories with nuance and character complexity. Generational values are changing, the children of today aren’t the same as those before, so it’s imperative that the stories Disney churns out reflects that.

However, at the same time, the adults who came to see Wish (the Old Disney generation) may have derived a sense of enjoyment and nostalgia from the most simplistic character portrayals. So Wish despite its faults is the perfect film to celebrate the 100 year mark of Disney.

A new movie with an old-feel.

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