Wish is credited as Walt Disney Studios’ 62nd animated motion picture. In an oeuvre that has nearly as many highs as lows, it’s easy to compare the studio’s efforts to that of its golden era (whatever era you consider that to be.)
Whether it’s the more modern lineup of Tangled, Frozen, and Moana, the decades-older offerings of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, or the historically relevant Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Cinderella, nearly everyone, young and old, has their favorite animated Disney films. It’s probably not fair to compare Wish to those masterpieces, but it can be hard not to, especially the more modern offerings like Encanto or Frozen II.
The film’s hybrid traditional and computer-generated animated style works well to differentiate itself from other offerings from alternate animation studios, and Disney alike. Wish certainly looks different, and that’s a good thing in this case. With its plot, which comes off as slightly convoluted and nonsensical, Wish may have tried a little too hard to be different. There seems to be an effort to bob and weave around the Disney-film stereotypes that littered the library of the studio’s past films, however, in the case of Wish, this is detrimental and never allows the movie to get its feet under it. Although the classic Disney films were able to speak to young and old alike, Wish isn’t likely to speak to multiple demographics the way the older movies did. Youngsters, however, are likely to enjoy the story and the lovable stars of the show.
The stars (pun completely intended) of Wish, are a literal star, and a goat. Star — aptly named — is described as “a little ball of boundless energy.” Star is animated in the most adorable way and brings much-needed warmth to Wish’s character set. As does Valentino, the main character’s favorite goat. Alan Tudyk, who voices Valentio, continues to be a most important ingredient in modern Disney cinema. Whether he has the funniest moment in Moana as Heihei the chicken or is challenging our protagonists as the evil Duke of Weaselton in Frozen and King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph, Tudyk brings his A-game in every Disney appearance. This remains true as Valentino steals the show in Wish. Tudyk deserves a corner penthouse in Disney’s castle for his character work over the decades.
Wish’s music is a stark reminder that not every movie can have songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, even if it is our wish that they were. Instead, we get what feels like Kirkland brand Miranda. There’s nothing quite as catchy here as Maui’s ‘You’re Welcome’, Encanto’s ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’, or even anything non-Miranda fare like Frozen or Frozen II. Still, the songs are performed capably, and they sound good at the moment, just don’t expect to be humming along to any of the Wish soundtrack on the way home.
Wish is a reminder that Disney’s animated films are primarily for kids. While the film doesn’t necessarily succeed in transcending age groups, it should hit its target and provide joy for the children it’s intended for.