Underwhelming ‘Wish’ reveals problem with traditional Disney formula

January 9, 2024 — by Amelia Chang and Annika Gho
Courtesy of Disney
Contrary to Asha and Valentino’s reactions, we were not at all impressed by ‘Wish’, which had nothing new to offer.  

The trailer made the movie seem bursting with potential; however, the lack of character development and dry plot created an overall disappointing viewing experience.

Disney’s “Wish” marks the studio’s 100th anniversary, serving as a culmination of its works in its century of existence. It seemed to be a big deal, and as such, many fans hoped it would be their redemption from their recent endless barrage of poorly received live-action remakes. 

“Wish” follows a teenage girl, Asha, who lives in the fictional kingdom of Rosas. Every citizen of Rosas has the opportunity to make a wish to King Magnifico, who will select a few throughout each year to grant at a “wish ceremony.” 

However, when citizens give up their wishes, they forget it and lose a part of themselves, becoming more subdued and melancholy. When Asha learns that King Magnifico is not planning to grant most of the wishes, especially her grandfather’s, whose wish is to inspire people through music, and will not return them either, she sets out on an adventure to get the wishes back.

The “Disney formula” is responsible for most of the problems we had with the movie. It follows a stereotypical hero’s journey — in particular, a clumsy, idealistic everyday citizen realizes some injustice in their world and wants to fix it. Of course, she’ll gain the help of her trustworthy pet companion and others. And along the way, she’ll sing some real gutsy songs. 

We came into this movie feeling hopeful despite numerous online complaints about it. And although the trailer looked amazing, we left the theater feeling disappointed.

Asha is only OK as a character. She fits the mold of a classic Disney heroine — again, idealistic and dorky — but she lacks any other dimension. It seems that Disney is too scared to try anything new these days.

Her talkative pet goat, Valentino, feels unnecessary, not contributing to the plot and telling dumb jokes the whole movie. He was simply the classic “talking animal companion” every Disney movie has. Personally, we just don’t think that a goat is the best embodiment of a “best friend.” He also isn’t really cute or helpful, for that matter.

“Wish,” like every other Disney animation, is a musical. Don’t get us wrong — we love Disney songs — but some of the musical numbers just did not stand out. Like many other classic Disney films, the protagonist chooses to sing at seemingly random times, and while the songs occasionally feature good beats and melodies, the lyrics are completely random. 

For example, in King Magnifico’s villain ego-boost song, “This is the Thanks I Get?” he sings, “I can’t help it if mirrors love my face. It’s genetics! Yeah, I got these genes from outer space.” First off, how can a villain be an alien? And, it’s just absurd how Magnifico wholeheartedly dedicates his handsome face to his parents.  

Another song, “At All Costs,” features King Magnifico and Asha singing about protecting people’s wishes, and while we thought it was one of the best songs in the movie — with both the villain and the heroine singing about protecting the same thing — the song felt completely out of place and unnatural. It’s odd that Asha and King Magnifico start singing in the middle of a deep conversation.

The movie also gives multiple interesting slivers of information, but never expands on them. We never learn how King Magnifico and his wife, Amaya, met, which could have given us more insight on their relationship. We were really disappointed when King Magnifico threatened Amaya and questioned her loyalty because why can’t we have a villain who actually cares about his wife?

The movie could have leaned into his paranoia and made a villain of his own right, but instead, they made King Magnifico a classic narcissist who turned into the stereotypical Disney villain because of a magic book. His backstory feels cheap, leading to an overall one-dimensional character. 

Despite our issues with his character, we can see his potential. He is actually enjoyable in the first scene he is introduced in, as it seemed he actually had an interesting backstory and motive. By not expanding on his backstory, Disney lost the opportunity to convey Magnifico in a compelling, human way, especially as he starts as someone who wants to care about and protect others. 

Even with all these shortcomings, however, we did enjoy all the Easter eggs Disney left for its 100th anniversary. It was a nice way to celebrate Disney’s works over the last century, with nods to many previous movies, like Asha’s seven friends representing the seven dwarves, and Star being the iconic wishing star.

Still, we can give the movie only 2 of 5 Falcons. Disney started this movie wanting to honor founder Walt Disney and his iconic animated movies, and though they achieved some success, they ended up with a movie that represented everything Disney writ large has become — a money-focused corporation that no longer pushes the boundaries of art or movie-making.

Tags: Disney, movie
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