Reflecting on the jewels of the Disney Renaissance, it’s evident that they trusted the young audiences of the ’80s and ’90s with emotionally complex content. Many of these films were adapted from literary classics or ancient folktales, making them resonate even with more mature viewers. While the latest Walt Disney Animation feature, Wish, aims to pay homage to the studio’s centennial, it falls short of reaching such electrifying heights.
Directed by Disney veteran Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, Wish aims to bring together the past and present with its unique animation style, which reads more graphic than most of the studio’s 3DCG features. The lush, moonlit backgrounds resemble storybook illustrations, adding to the overall aesthetic appeal.
Set in the kingdom of Rosas, inspired by cultures of the Iberian Peninsula, the story revolves around King Magnifico who is the keeper of his subject’s wishes. Each resident of Rosas relinquishes their deepest desire to the magical ruler upon turning 18, but when Asha, a young tour guide, discovers the king’s controlling tendencies during a job interview, she makes it her mission to inform the people of Rosas about the ugly truth she’s learned and to encourage them to demand their wishes back.
The heart of the movie truly shines through in the song “This Wish,” as Asha belts out a heartfelt chorus about selflessly wanting better for everyone. As part of its tribute to 100 years of Disney, Wish partly functions as a modern take on the studio’s first feature, incorporating humorous engagement with some of the genre’s tropes.
While Wish avoids cameos by characters from Disney’s back catalog and is allowed to be its own standalone tale, it lacks the audacious DNA of features from the Disney Renaissance and earlier eras of the studio. It falls short of grasping anything truly innovative and reads like a safe bet desperate to please without taking any real creative risks.