A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs: Wakko's Wish is a 1999 holiday special based on the well-received Animaniacs TV series (1993–1995). It's filled with the familiar characters introduced in that show; the central characters are Wakko, Yakko, and Dot Warner, while support is provided by Pinky and the Brain, Slappy and Skippy Squirrel, Mindy and Buttons, and so on. Cartoon action and danger, meant to be funny, includes falls, explosions, snarling dogs, cannon fire, an avalanche, crashes, and chases. Kids who are clear about "real" versus "pretend" violence should have no difficulty here. And there's enough irreverence, cultural satire, and clever musical numbers to keep adults engaged.
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What's the story?
In STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS ANIMANIACS: WAKKO'S WISH, Acme Falls has been taken over by the wicked King Salazar of Ticktockia after the death of King William of Warnerstock. (Could those counties be only slightly disguised references to Warner Brothers and Time, Inc.?) The once prosperous and happy citizens have been crushed by Salazar's cruel tax laws and his henchman/tax collector Baron von Plotz. So when Dot Warner (voiced by Tress MacNeille), sweet little sister of Wakko (Jess Harnell) and Yakko (Rob Paulsen) Warner, needs an operation to save her life -- she coughs a lot -- their only hope is to find an amazingly magical Wishing Star and be the first ever to touch it so their wish will come true. Unfortunately, a whole lot of other citizens of Acme Falls, both friends and enemies, get wind of the Wishing Star, and the race is on!
Is it any good?
Catchy tunes, a simple-to-follow story, and an array of original characters make this a funny and very entertaining movie. Steven Spielberg's participation as executive producer is noteworthy. Kids already familiar with Animaniacs characters (Pinky and the Brain, Mindy and Buttons) will be doubly delighted when they show up here. And kids for whom Animaniacs is new probably will want to check out the DVD collections from the 1993–1995 series. Clever cultural references and jokes will keep the grown-ups engaged, too. Highly recommended for kids who are comfortable with comic cartoon action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the uses of music in this movie. How did it work? (Often it helps define the characters; sometimes the songs move the story forward; music helps us understand how the characters feel; and sometimes it's just for fun.)
In the race to reach the Wishing Star, which characters were trying to help someone else? Who wanted something only for themselves? Whom did you root for?
Why do you think the pigeons stopped following King Salazar's orders? Does it take courage to think for yourself when you're asked or told to do something you know is not right?
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