Wish parents guide

Wish Parent Guide

With a limp soundtrack and uninspired animation, this film is merely adequate; not the showstopper expected from Disney's animation wizards.

Overall B-

Theaters: A young girl named Asha makes a wish upon a star and ends up with far more than she bargained for.

Release date November 22, 2023

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

Why is Wish rated PG? The MPAA rated Wish PG for thematic elements and mild action.

Run Time: 92 minutes

Parent Movie Review

For decades, Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine) has ruled the Kingdom of Rosas, protecting his subjects from harm. People have come from all over the Mediterranean to dwell on the peaceful island, submitting to the sorcerer king’s decree: At the age of 18, they will give him their deepest, most cherished wish, the dream that makes them who they are. Once surrendered, the wish will be forgotten, but the king will keep the wishes safe and will occasionally make a few of them come true.

Asha (Ariana DeBose) has grown up on the island, dazzled by the handsome ruler. When the seventeen-year-old has the chance to apply to be his apprentice, she is delighted – until she sees the tower room filled with forgotten, unfulfilled wishes. The lost dreams, stifled potential, and missed happiness fill Asha with grief and then anger. Dismissed by the king, she flees to the woods, and makes her own wish upon a star.

Any Disney fan knows what happens when you wish on a star – magic, that’s what. Sure enough, Asha, her newly verbal baby goat, Valentino (Alan Tudyk), her stellar friend, and her old pals find themselves caught up in a contest with a fearful, vengeful king, and it’s going to take everything they’ve got to survive…

There are two principal problems with the movie: the look and the sound. I was excited about Disney’s attempt to make the movie appear hand-drawn, giving it a less plastic appearance than is often found in computer generated animation. I like the look but for some reason the animators chose to use a very desaturated palette. The movie is often dim, with lots of greys, lavenders, and off-white tones. Weirdly for Disney, some of the animation looks incomplete. Close ups of Magnifico’s hands show little detail and his fingers look like pale sausages. The animation wizards at the Mouse House are capable of better work and errors like this are distracting.

The production’s soundtrack is also a letdown. Disney is the master of movie music, with tunes that set an emotional tone, move the plot, and illuminate characters. Sadly, the music in Wish is so bland I frequently zoned out in the theater and honestly couldn’t remember more than a few lines by the time I drove home. The silver lining here is that there is no Let It Go equivalent that your four-year-old is going to belt out at full volume for the next six months.

Things get better when we come to the movie’s story. The most interesting part of the film is its depiction of the king’s descent into villainy. At the beginning, Magnifico is a mostly benevolent despot. Yes, he fears loss and is hyper-controlling but he provides his people with a safe, albeit limited, kingdom. As he feels his control slipping and his will being challenged, he reaches for dark magic. His fall illustrates the old saying, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Fortunately, Asha and her friends give life to ideals of selflessness, loyalty, sacrifice, integrity, courage, self-respect, and love. Asha is a fine heroine and parents will be happy to have their kids spend some time with her.

As for parental concerns, this is a pretty standard Disney movie with some plot-related peril, including evil spells, supernatural magic, and scenes of the king deliberately harming his subjects. There’s brief snot and butt humor, but nothing else of concern. If your little ones can make it through Sleeping Beauty or Aladdin, they’ll be fine with this flick.

I had hoped that Wish would be one of Disney’s best films, a wondrous, enchanting movie that would carry me away into a captivating imaginary world. Sadly, that wish did not come true. This is a perfectly adequate family film, but it isn’t a great one.

Directed by Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn. Starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Evan Peters. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release November 22, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Wish

Rating & Content Info

Why is Wish rated PG? Wish is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements and mild action.

Violence: A young woman is chased by a vengeful man bent on violence. There are scenes of supernatural violence where people are tied up, thrown up, and blasted with green light. A sorcerer crushes people’s wishes, leaving them sad and in pain. Characters mention the deaths of family members.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.

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Wish Parents' Guide

Why does Magnifico take his people’s wishes? Why does he feel the need to keep them safe? What would happen if people kept their own wishes? Do you think it’s better to fail to achieve your dream or to forget and never try? What turns Magnifico into a fully evil sorcerer? What role does fear play in his transformation? What is he afraid to face? What motivates Asha? What does she want when she wishes on the star? Why do you think the star answers her wish?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

Young children will enjoy the bright picture books from L.W. Abela, I Wish I Was a Mermaid, I Wish I Was a Monkey, and I Wish I Was an Alien.

In Once Upon a Wish, Amy Sparkes and Sara Ogilvie tell the story of a wishgiver who voyages across the skies in a boat, magically granting wishes.

For chapter books about wishing, you can try The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides and Jessica Warrick. In this tale for older kids, Ace accidentally releases a genie. Ace is now a “wishmaker” and must complete a quest in a week – with the help of the genie.

In The Wishkeeper’s Apprentice, Rachel Chivers Koo tells the tale of a young man who needs to protect his village from a wishsnatcher.

Middle-school readers should appreciate Wishtree. Written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Charles Santoso, this bestselling book tells the story of an oak tree upon which neighborhood residents tie their written wishes.

For a real life story of the power of wishing for a better world, you can turn to Malala’s Magic Pencil, written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoet. In this touching book, the young Nobel laureate shares the childhood dreams of education and progress that inspired her actions as a teenager and young adult.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Ah, wishes. Full of promise and peril. If your family wishes for more movies on this topic, there are plenty to choose from. Aladdin is the well known tale of the poor but enterprising young man who finds a genie and gets three wishes. Disney has made the tale available in both animated and live action versions.

In Wish Dragon, the protagonist finds a magical dragon and wishes to reconnect with his childhood best friend. This simple wish leads both Din and Li Na on an unexpected adventure in modern day China.

The perils of wishing are made very clear in Four Kids and It, the story of four step-siblings who discover a Psammaed, a sand-dwelling creature who can make wishes come true. The CGI isn’t great but the story is replete with solid moral lessons.

For something a bit different, I recommend Luck. This unusual animated film teaches kids that bad luck or adverse circumstances can actually make life better in the long run and that we don’t need to have every wish come true to have a fulfilling life.