By Connor McCoy

 

“Wish,” Walt Disney Animation Studios’ newest film, might just be one of the best films I’ve seen all year. And I mean that.

The film is directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn. Buck previously directed “Tarzan” (1999), “Frozen” (2013), and “Frozen II” (2019). 

“Wish” is Veerasunthorn’s directorial debut. The film’s screenplay is written by Allison Moore and Jennifer Lee, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lee previously wrote and co-directed “Frozen” and “Frozen II” with Chris Buck.

The film stars Ariana DeBose as Asha, a girl who wants to return ungranted wishes to their owners, Chris Pine as King Magnifico, the ruler of the Kingdom of Rosas who safeguards his subjects’ wishes, and Alan Tudyk as Asha’s pet goat, Valentino. Tudyk has appeared in every Walt Disney Animation Studios film since “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012).

The film’s art style, meant to resemble a combination of traditional hand-drawn animation and modern computer animation, is beautiful. I’ll admit, when I first saw the trailer I wasn’t sure about the art style, but it quickly grew on me. I really hope Disney uses this style in future movies.

This movie is full of Disney references and easter eggs. 

I won’t give them all away, but here are three to get you started: The first occurs during the song “At All Costs,” a dress resembling the one worn by Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) can be seen in one of the wishes; the second is right after the song “I’m a Star,” when a deer thanks a bear for not eating him. The bear’s name is John, which is a reference to Little John from “Robin Hood” (1973); and the third is in a scene that I can’t describe without giving spoilers, one of the wishes shows a shot from “Peter Pan” (1953).

The songs, written by Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice, are incredible. I loved every song in the movie, but my favorite was probably “This Is the Thanks I Get?”, which is sung by Magnifico. Unlike most Disney villain songs, “This Is the Thanks I Get?” is light and upbeat, juxtaposing lyrics that describe the king’s warped and distorted view of himself and his rule. The best thing about the song is how the lyrics slowly become more unhinged as the song progresses, reflecting Magnifico’s own unhinging throughout the song.

“Wish” opens in the fashion of a classic Disney film, with the film’s backstory being delivered in the form of a storybook. It tells us that Magnifico studied sorcery and, with his wife Amaya (Angelique Cabral), founded the Kingdom of Rosas so that he could keep people’s wishes safe from harm.

Following the backstory, Asha has an interview with Magnifico for the position of his apprentice. The interview goes well – so well, in fact, that Magnifico shows Asha the wishes given to him by the people of Rosas, which very few people get to see – until Asha learns that Magnifico only grants the wishes that he feels are good. 

When Asha tells Magnifico that he should return the wishes he won’t grant, he informs her that not only will she not get the position, he will also ensure that neither her grandfather’s nor her mother’s wishes will ever be granted as punishment for defying him.

That night Asha wishes on a star and the star comes down to help her. The star, who Asha names “Star,” grants Valentino and the animals of the forest the ability to talk. Asha then forms a plan to retrieve her family’s wishes.

I could not recommend this movie more. Seriously, go watch it. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I usually don’t watch a movie in theaters more than once, but I definitely plan to see this movie again.

Connor McCoy

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