A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A musical number explains the Big Bang theory and how star matter spread, so that all living creatures are partly stardust.
Our dreams represent who we are; never let anyone take your dreams away from you. True friends help one another -- and can receive forgiveness when they make mistakes. It's important to do the right thing, even when it's difficult. And it's also important to welcome diverse people into your community.
Positive Role Models
Asha is a loving daughter and granddaughter. The plot is set into motion when her compassion activates her integrity. She and her friends show bravery and work as a team to accomplish their goal. Asha's animal sidekick, Valentino, demonstrates perseverance: He doesn't get discouraged when he falls; he gets up and tries again. Several supporting characters join Asha in demonstrating courage to do what's right. The villain believes he's acting in the people's best interests but is seduced by the temptation of having more power.
This female-driven story was written by two women and one man and co-directed by Fawn Veerasunthorn, a female Thai animator. Main character Asha, Disney's first Afro-Latina heroine, is voiced by Ariana DeBose, a queer actor of Black, Puerto Rican, and Italian descent. According to the filmmakers, the movie's fictional island of Rosas is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, where people of all nationalities crossed and thrived in the Middle Ages. Therefore, Rosas is ethnically diverse: Asha's friends and fellow citizens are Asian, Latino, Black, and White. They also have a variety of body shapes and types, and one has a normalized disability (she uses a crutch to walk).
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Violence & Scariness
The villain is imposing and intimidating and prone to fits of rage; he uses crackling magical power to hurt others (a few scenes look very torture-like). A large, heavy object is pushed onto a person, but the outcome is never shown, and the person appears uninjured later. Wooden toys meant to represent villagers appear to be in distress and are kicked. Main character and her friends are in peril/danger; there are some chases, and animals threaten a character at one point. The death of Asha's father is discussed, and characters are still sad about it; people also feel grief when they lose their wishes. Arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
"Kiss" in a song lyric.
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"Butt" is used.
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Products & Purchases
Nothing on-screen, but lots of off-screen tie-in merchandise available.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wish is an animated musical about a 17-year-old girl finding her power in the magical kingdom of Rosas. Made to celebrate Disney's 100th anniversary, the story references frequent Mouse House themes -- including "when you wish upon a star" and "a dream is a wish your heart makes" -- and has plenty of Easter eggs for fans. It also shows the studio's progress: Main character Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) is smart and capable, not a damsel who needs rescuing. She's also Afro-Latina, with a White father, and Rosas is widely diverse in terms of ethnicity, body type, and disability. The movie is heartwarming and funny, with little iffy content ("butt" is used once). But younger or more sensitive kids might be scared by the villain's explosive rage or scenes in which he uses crackling magic to hurt others. Characters also experience grief, both from losing people they love (Asha's father has passed) and from the snuffing out of their dearest wishes. Ultimately, though, the movie's messages are that our dreams represent who we are and that it's important to do the right thing, even when it's difficult. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Wish is cute and fun to watch, especially once you realize that it's a hat tip to all of the Disney Animation movies that have come before it. But this 100th anniversary musical also feels a bit like AI's answer to the prompt: "Make a Disney Animation movie for the modern day." For Disneyphiles, it's a gift that will make their hearts soar. You're meant to notice the movie's many legacy nods, from the 2D animated storybook opening to when Asha is singing "This Wish" and her hair blows in the wind just like Pocahontas' did in "Colors of the Wind." These little nods roll in from all directions, and there's an endorphin rush from every one you catch. The songs written by Julia Michaels are on par with Disney classics (Magnifico's "This Is the Thanks I Get" is catchy fabulous, a number hilariously relatable to both parents and politicians) and are destined to fit in perfectly on a Disney greatest hits compilation.
However. Homage is one thing, and self-derivative is another. Wish is so busy winking that it waters down its own story. Instead of being the next great Disney Animation movie, it's a bop that's likely to land with a lot of buzz and then disappear. It's fine, and it serves a purpose, but Wish is robbed of the opportunity of being its own movie, and that might leave audiences dreaming about how it could have been so much more. (That said, watch through the credits to see if you can name all of the Disney Animation movies!)
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.