At this point seeing an animated Bernie Sanders in a Disney film wouldn’t shock us.
The studio’s Leftward lurch, both in its battles with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and woke agenda, is Hollywood’s worst-kept secret.
It’s sent the mega studio into a fiscal tailspin and left apolitical fans wondering when the studio will rediscover that ol’ Disney magic.
“Wish” isn’t that moment. It occasionally soars thanks to buoyant musical numbers and animation that’s both classic and cutting edge. The film’s biggest surprise? The story asks viewers to make their dreams come true, sans government.
Rosas resident Asha (Ariana DeBose, solid) longs to serve as King Magnifico’s apprentice. And why not? The suave King, voiced with elan by Chris Pine, is a benevolent leader of Rosas whose signature move is making his subjects’ wishes come true.
Long live the King!
Except when Asha applies for the position she gets a peek at the man behind the throne. He controls the populace by hoarding their wishes, depicted as glowing blue spheres that float within the castle.
The fine print? Giving the King your wishes makes you forget all about them. And he’s particularly stingy when it comes to making them a reality.
That convinces Asha to storm the castle, or at least sneak in and grab her beloved Grandpa’s wish back before it’s too late. The old timer, voiced by Victor Garber, just turned 100, mind you.
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And she’s not alone in her quest. She wished upon a star (oh, the Disney Easter eggs you’ll find) and snagged an adorable star named Star to guide her way. Star is both cute and bland, a surprising combination from a studio known for clever sidekicks.
We do get a second stab on the sidekick front: Valentino, a talking goat given vocal gusto by Alan Tudyk.
Can we stop and say how weird, and complicated, this all seems? Simplicity matters, and there’s a lot of world building required to get things moving.
Even weirder? The story is a direct assault on Big Government and the quest for protection at all costs. Trust me, King Magnifico coos. I’ll keep you safe and happy. And stop all that dreaming. We’ll do it for you.
And, of course, he’ll keep their wishes at arm’s length. Maybe forever.
“Wish” starts strong and boasts several catchy musical numbers. DeBose voice is a perfect match for Disney princesses. The Mouse House’s animation team, which renders characters as vibrant as any studio ever could, remains unparalleled in their gifts.
The film blends hand-drawn characters with digital flourishes, creating a distinct look that’s easily digested.
Some sequences strain for whimsy and flat-out fail. Star transforms a gaggle of chickens into gargantuan foul to zero narrative effect (or laughs). Supporting players, like the local lad who’s as dull as a brick never comes to life.
Nor does Gabo (Harvey Guillen), Asha’s savvy confidante. Giving the great Tudyk so few funny lines here is darn near criminal.
What a missed opportunity.
It’s as if writers Jennifer Lee, Allison Moore and Chris Buck knew what a classic Disney film looks and sounds like but didn’t dig deeper into its creative DNA.
The saga packs plenty of on-screen diversity, but the woke lectures got left on the cutting room floor. Completely.
Conservatives will be stunned by the story’s core messages, but audiences of all ideological stripes will pine for a third act worthy of the Disney brand.
HiT or Miss: “Wish” offers a shockingly Libertarian message, but it can’t stand tall next to past Disney classics.