Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
Disney’s continuing promotion of occult-like messages: magic, witches, sorcery and other anti-Biblical content
Wishing on a star
Fantasy magic wish fulfillment
“Magic of the stars”
Stars in the Bible
Evil, deceitful and manipulative king
About the KINGS in the Bible
What does the Bible say about HUMILITY versus pridefulness?
What is the significance of LAMBS in the Bible?
Ariana DeBose … Asha (voice)
Chris Pine … King Magnifico (voice)
Evan Peters … Simon (voice)
Alan Tudyk … Valentino (voice)
Harvey Guillén … Gabo (voice)
Victor Garber … Sabino (voice)
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Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
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|Distributor||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
“Be careful what you wish for”
In the kingdom of Rosas, life might seem like a fairytale. But, everything is not what it seems.
When a citizen turns 18, he or she gives his or her wish to King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine), who has the magical ability to grant them. A life spent in anticipation of the day your heart’s desire comes true? Sounds a little better than the real world? Or does it?
17-year old Asha (voiced by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose) is given the opportunity to become the king’s apprentice. In her interview, she comes across a dark truth. King Magnifico reveals he will not grant most of the wishes he’s been given, thinking that most of them serve as a potential threat to his reign. In addition, each wish given to him is immediately forgotten by each one’s owner.
Upon hearing this revelation, Asha retreats and makes a wish for her kingdom on the stars above. The wish apparently is not only heard, but physically responded to by a small, adorable star. With the help of her somewhat reluctant friends, as well as her pet goat Valentino, Asha hopes to reclaim the wishes for the people of Rosas, before King Magnifico becomes too powerful to stand against.
“Wish” has some positive qualities to it. First, the musical work here by pop artist Julia Michaels and co-writers Benjamin Rice and JP Saxe is surprisingly good. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about the idea of entrusting a penultimate 100th anniversary Disney movie soundtrack to new writers. But, Michaels, a diehard Disney fan herself, steps up to the challenge with at least a couple of memorable tunes. “This Wish” is a very strong “I Want” song that carries its own unique tone. Meanwhile, Pine’s villain song, “This is the Thanks I Get?!” has warmed up on me. It has a catchy beat, while also carrying a few twists.
“Knowing What We Know Now” also has a catchy beat, with a surprise ending. The only song that didn’t quite work for me was “You’re a Star!”, not only for its mixed messaging, but that it felt very on-the-nose, generic, and unmemorable. Upon reflection, I felt Michaels’ work here reminded me quite a bit of Pasek and Paul (“The Greatest Showman,” the “Aladdin” remake and “La La Land”).
The voicework here is pretty solid also. DeBose brings some humility, spunk, and sincerity to the role of Asha. Meanwhile, Pine was perfect casting for Magnifico. He has quite a range, and sings very well. But, he clearly showcases the slow fall from grace for this character, while also bringing some levity here and there.
The story is refreshingly simple, and calls back to old-school Disney. That being said, that also means the characters are not fully fleshed out (especially supporting characters). There’s no complex character dynamics at play here. Star is a terrific (and classically Disney) sidekick character that’s given a few scene-stealing moments, but Valentino did not stand out as much as I thought he would. Finally, while Magnifico’s villain origin story is paced very well, the overall rising action (Asha finding out the truth about the wishes) seemed rushed.
As for the animation, I felt a bit mixed about the final product. This was Disney’s answer to “Spider-Verse” with some hand-drawn elements mixed with computer animation. On the positive side, the backgrounds are painterly and are exquisitely well-done. However, on the other side of things, the character animation feels a little unfinished at times, and comes across more like a direct-to-streaming or DVD product than something worthy of a theatrical release.
While the film largely centers around the subject of wishes, it (thankfully) also encourages the idea of working hard and persevering for your dreams. Asha mentions to King Magnifico that even if he doesn’t grant them, shouldn’t he return them to let the people work for their wishes to come true? By the film’s end, the citizens of Rosas become motivated to work hard to make their wishes come true.
Asha is a positive role model by continuously looking out for others needs over her own. She sings, “I make this wish to have something more for us than this.” She sings out of feeling grief for those who may never see their dreams realized or wishes granted. This is a Christ-like quality encouraged in Philippians:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. —Philippians 2:3-4
For the most part, Asha’s friends come to her side to help take a stand against Magnifico and his magic. One other character also makes a brave stand under pressure to help the people. Asha’s mom and grandfather are both solid, loving examples as well.
Adult Content: There’s one very ambiguous song lyric from one male character saying, “don’t be fooled by a handsome face” (in reference to Magnifico). Unless you count that, there’s no LGBT or Woke content here.
Elsewhere, one female character has a crush on Magnifico. A female villager pretends to kiss his statue’s lips.
Violence: Some mildly perilous moments (mostly of the slapstick variety), but on the lighter side for Disney fare. A couple of perilous jumps. Magnifico crushes a few wishes at one point, which causes some villagers to hold their hearts as if they’ve lost a part of themselves. Magnifico kicks and tosses toy-like representations of villagers. Bears and bunnies do a little damage as well. Swords and other weaponry appear. One scene features characters overpowered by magic repeatedly, and anchored to the ground.
Drugs or Alcohol: None
Spiritual Elements/Other: The song “Knowing What I Know Now” carries some lyrics encouraging rebellion. To be fair, the song does end with a surprise that mitigates a lot of this, but parents might want to have a conversation with younger kids following this regarding why Asha and her friends are taking a stand (and why it differs from say, being unhappy about a parental decision at home). At the same time, Asha might be reclaiming wishes for the people of Rosas, but it still qualifies as a heist of sorts.
Magnifico is said to have studied magic to become a sorcerer. Eventually, when he feels threatened enough, he turns to a book of “dark, forbidden magic.” This spews green magic that “tethers” Magnifico to the book, and he is warned that anyone who consults the book is used by the magic for its own nefarious purposes. He uses the magic to possess one character briefly, and also uses it to keep everyone in check as well. Later, he absorbs the magic of several wishes, and eventually pays the price for doing so.
The song, “I’m a Star,” encourages Evolutionism’s false teaching that we are made from stars, not by God. Lyrics excerpts:
Have you ever wondered why you look up at the sky for answers?
…What’s passed down generationally, to you? (And to me?)
And why our eyes all look like microscopic galaxies?
…Well, you don’t have to look too hard
…If you really wanna know just who you are
You’re a star (Yes)
Boom, did we just blow your mind? Uh-huh
Well, I’ve known the entire time
When it comes to the universe we’re all shareholders
Get that trough your system (Solar)
See we’re all just little nebulae in a nursery
From supernovas now we’ve grown into our history
…We eat the leaves and they eat the sun
See that’s where all the balls of gas come from
Hey, you still look like you’re hanging on by a strand
But If you just see the mushrooms then you’ll understand
So your dust, is my dust?
…If you really wanna know just who you are
I’m a star!
…It’s all quite revelatory
We are our own origin story
…I’m a star (Wooh)
Are we really made of stardust? Answer
When were the stars created? Before the Earth or after? What is the order of events in the biblical Creation? Answer
Top choice for accurate, in-depth information on Creation/Evolution. Our SuperLibrary is provided by a top team of experts from various respected scientific creationist organizations who answer your questions on a wide variety of topics.
Meanwhile, Magnifico claims he got his genes from outer space. Meanwhile, Star spews a style of magic to bring plants to life and translate animal speech to English.
Brief mild bathroom humor comes in the form of Valentino mentioning “balls of gas” and that his “butt” found a secret path.
“Wish” was created with Disney’s centennial anniversary in mind. The concept of making a movie based on the Mouse House’s key mantra (“When You Wish Upon a Star”) sounds like a good idea on paper, even if it also seemed a little too on the nose. And, considering the recent controversy the celebrated studio has found itself in, overall buzz and reception was middling at best, polarizing at worst.
In hindsight, I’m glad I lowered my expectations, because “Wish” did exceed that low bar. There’s a few story surprises here and there that kept things relatively interesting. The soundtrack is overall pretty strong, with at least a couple I am listening to multiple times. There’s a few solid character creations in the mix. And, being Disney’s centennial year, there’s some solid Easter eggs (or should I say, hidden Mickeys!) to classic movies thrown in too.
That does not mean “Wish” is going to be on anyone’s favorite Disney movies list. The story (while refreshingly simple) lacks the complex, more interesting and memorable characters of recent Disney efforts. And the character animation (at times) feels like something that needed a few more months of work before being put on a big screen.
As for content concerns, “Wish” carries a couple of mixed/questionable messages that might make it a dealbreaker for some, or may lead to some conversations with younger kids either before or after the movie. Otherwise, save for a few darker moments of magic (there is a clear good/evil line here), it is among the cleaner, less intense films Disney has made.
Ultimately, while I found “Wish” reasonably enjoyable and engaging, it does fall short of the high creative marks set by its predecessors (“Tangled,” “Frozen,” “Moana,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Encanto”). Not a must-see. But as far as family movie nights go, it’s not the worst choice.
That is, unless you and your family are decisively (and understandably) staying away from Disney content due to recent controversy. In that case, “Wish” does not make for a compelling return to form for the studio.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.