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Challenging nobility is no Wishful thinking – Beyond Bollywood

Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn’s ‘dream’ work will put Disney loyalists to sleep. Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine lead an impressive voice cast, but wish this animated tale had a dreamy screenplay.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ (2 / 5)

By Mayur Lookhar

Make a wish, and see it come true. Huh, it only happens in fairytales. Truth be told, they no longer come easy in fairytales too.

Disney’s Wish [2023] sees wishes of Rosas (fictional remote kingdom in the Mediterranean) locked in sorcerer King Magnifico’s (Chris Pine) castle. The king didn’t steal it. He tricked the Rosas into giving their cherised dream(s) to him. The dream keeper called it an act of taking the load of their chest. He offered false hopes that one day he would grant their wish.

Asha (Ariana DeBose) wishes that her grandfather Sabino’s (Victor Garber) wish would definitely be granted on his 100th birthday. She leaves the palace with a broken heart. She, however, realises that her king is no dream keeper but a thief.

A dream keeper is the stuff of fantasy. Disney’s legacy is built on fables, happily-ever-after stories. Here though, the dreams are locked in a castle. Within the dark fantasy, there is a clear anti-autocrasy message. The bubbled dreams mirror the electoral votes, aspirations of citizens. As in a democracy, it’s often the chosen leader who crushes them.

Director Chris Buck has a fine story up his sleeves, but the Jennifer Lee, Alison Moore penned screenplay doesn’t quite grant Buck, and the viewer’s wish for an endearing Disney animated film. The buck doesn’t stop with Buck. Co-director Fawn Veerasunthorne (Raya and the Dragon fame), too, cops equal blame.

After a promising opening few minutes, Wish [2023] turn into a dull Disney drama. A Disney musical, and no great music. Save for I’m a Star’ track, the others are pretty average.

Buck and Veerasunthorn are bang on in their choice of Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine as the leading voice cast. From playing Anita in Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021l) to now being Disney’s Asha in Wish. DeBose seems to attract these desi names. Asha is an apt name for a leading protagonist in a film called Wish. However, Asha’s mother bearing the name of Sakina, with grandfather called Sabino is unsual. Hmm, Disney is getting increasingly cosmopolitan. Asha’s rooted culture, humble dressing, ebony skin tone, acne face, Disney has come a long way from its pretty ‘fairy’ protagonists. It’s not woke though. Despite the dull screenplay, it’s DeBose who keeps the boat afloat.

Chris Pine’s salt and pepper look king Magnifico is initially charming, but as Asha’s grumpy friend Gabo (Harvey Guillen) later says, “Never trust a pretty face”. Pine finely emotes the insecurity, viciousness, and vanity of Magnifico.

Gabo, Dahlia, Hal, Simon, amd Safi. Asha’s friends partly trigger the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs nostalgia. Bambi, too, makes an impression.

The plot, screenplay is dull and the visual storytelling, too, isn’t all that compelling – way below Disney standards. Asha’s talking goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk) and the talking mushrooms offer some cuddly moments but it’s not enough to lift the film. The Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn directorial ‘dream’ work is no nightmare, but is likely to fall of the audiences’ wish for a dreamy Disney animated experience.

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