Let me start with the two good things about Wish. I love the pencil-drawn and watercolor art direction—very different and quite beautiful. The second is King Magnifico. We haven’t seen a true Disney Villain in a long time. Magnifico is evil and dastardly and suffers a fate worthy of a Disney Villain.
That said, there is a lot wrong with Wish, and to call it the movie worthy of 100 years of the Walt Disney Company is a travesty and an affront to Disney fans and Walt’s legacy. The trouble starts with the animation. Over the past 100 years, Disney animation has evolved. Yet, with Wish, it’s almost as if they fired the old guard of Disney Animation and threw away the manual (i.e., Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson’s The Illusion of Life).
As someone who’s been watching Disney films for the last fifty years, I feel the overall animation is off…noticeably off. Head motions look weird when characters talk; they “squash and stretch” in inhuman ways. Characters move like the CG background characters of Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s missing that Disney magic that brought line drawings and now CG wire-frames to life. There’s almost no comparison to any other film in the company’s catalog. Frame compositions are amateurish and look dull and bland from scene to scene.
“…it’s almost as if they fired the old guard of Disney Animation and threw away the manual…”
Another disappointment is the music by Grammy Award nominated Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice. Broadway composers score Disney musicals far better than pop music songwriters, and that’s true here. The music is competent, but unremarkable. What we want is to hum your songs on the way home, like the catchy and clever lyrics of Ashman and Menken or the beautiful ballads of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Add the Sherman Brothers to the mix. The songs of Wish are structured like journal entries set to music. They are reflections upon a subject when they should be poetry.
The biggest misstep is the story itself. The narrative foundation is flawed between the concept of wishes and dreams. Someone once said, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” King Magnifico wants everyone’s wish, which in reality is their life’s dream…to be a musician, to explore the world, that one day your prince would come. From a logical standpoint, there’s a disconnect that’s hard to overcome.
Then there’s Asha. The filmmakers describe her as “an activist.” Young children have bigger obstacles to climb in life than needing to become an activist. The problem with Asha is her goal is to defeat the King. She’s on a quest to “step into her power” but she experiences zero character development. She’s the same person from start to finish, except she fulfills her quest with the help of her mostly forgettable friends, who are diverse in skin color and body shape. In other words, Asha and company are perfect…and therefore dull.
Again, for a film meant to be a milestone for 100 years of the Walt Disney Company, Wish is a monumental failure. I’m sure audiences will feel good when Wish is over. With a tradition of films that inspire young children, this one will be forgotten. It’s as if Walt Disney and his legacy no longer matter anymore.
"…meant to be a milestone for 100 years of the Walt Disney Company, Wish is a monumental failure."