HomeMoviesReview: Disney's Wish is a Whole Lotta Sizzle, Not Enough Steak

Review: Disney’s Wish is a Whole Lotta Sizzle, Not Enough Steak

Photo Credit: Disney

On paper, Wish has all the hallmarks of a classic Disney animated musical feature. There’s young female lead (Asha) who stands up against the forces of evil (King Magnifico) armed with a strong will, an immovable sense of family, a resplendent singing voice and multiple, highly marketable sidekicks (Star and the talking baby goat, Valentino).

All of this makes for an extremely fun and enjoyable viewing experience — however there are a number of things preventing Wish from joining the likes of Encanto, Frozen or Moana as an all-time classic.

Wish, despite having all those aforementioned hallmarks, lacks one of the most important parts of a classic Disney film — an emotional journey. The film seems more focused on checking the boxes of all those iconic traits of a Disney film that forgets about the reason so many films from this animation have become timeless classics. From Snow White to The Lion King, classic Disney films are about the journey, the struggle, overcoming physical and emotional obstacles and our lead discovering something vital about themselves and the world around them. Wish feels like a film that either wasn’t interested in telling a deep, emotional story, or left it on the editing room floor in order to deliver a big, flashy, family-friendly and marketable moments.

And that’s the shame of Wish. We never get time to invest into our hero Asha (voiced by Oscar winner Arianna DeBose) the same way we have with other Disney heroines before her. Her motivations feel rushed and under-baked, her family background and relationships are superficial and her songs lack the weight of previous Disney film canon.

Despite all this working against her, DeBose is phenomenal in this role and is the reason so much of this film works. The Oscar winner elevates Asha from an under-written character into an a lead that you can’t help but root for.  Her emotional arc might not be the stuff of classic Disney, but DeBose’s natural charm and charismatic enthrall you. She imbues so much heart and emotional into her word of dialogue and every note of her songs. Its a performance that sticks with you after the film’s finale, but sadly better material would’ve made Asha an all-timer in the Disney canon.

Opposite Debose, Chris Pine shines as the film’s villain King Magnifico. While his musical numbers are a bit of a hot mess (complete with grating auto-tuning), Pine turns in a well, magnificent, performance. Pine was seemingly born to play the role of Magnifico and the usually laidback leading man plays the villainous side of the king so big that you can almost hearing him chewing pieces of the set in between his line delivery. He runs the classic Disney villain playbook with panache and aplomb, but again the writing really lets the film down. The conflict between Magnifico and Asha is superficial at best and had they been explored, it’d be way more compelling.

The entire plot of Magnifico taking the wishes of his people and only granting certain ones is a very intriguing plotpoint. However, the intriguing parts (the why and how) are quickly swallowed up when Magnifico realizes that absorbing these wishes makes himself more powerful. Had the film dove into why he’s so afraid of granting everyone’s wishes like how it’s tied into his childhood (as its implied in the beginning of the film) would have made he and the conflict with Asha even more emotionally interesting.

Sadly, the poor writing doesn’t stop there. Too many under-developed supporting characters are thrust into important roles with little time for the audience to connect with them. Important character developments fall flat on their face as these characters mean almost nothing to the main plot. There’s also very odd creative decision to tie Wish into the history of Disney’s animated films. There’s numerous references to Snow White & The Seven Dwarves and Peter Pan that feel more at home in a Shrek film than a Disney animated musical fantasy. While these aren’t the biggest issues with the film — they just are indicative of the big problems with the film — it’s like Disney forgot what makes their own films special.

Disney’s Wish, at the end of the day, is a very enjoyable film carried by two super charismatic leads and two very adorable, scene-stealing sidekicks in Alan Tudyk’s talking baby goat Valentino and the Star. It’s a fun film that all ages can 100% enjoy. However, while it’s enjoyable, it’s not up to the standard which Disney itself created. It lacks that magic, that emotion and that heart which has created timeless classics.

Disney’s Wish is now playing in theaters nationwide.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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