Wish Man

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Wish Man Movie Poster Image
Sentimental, hopeful biopic has drinking, strong language.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

When people need help, you give it to them. Anyone can be a hero.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At first Frank is arrogant, cynical, and often looking for a fight. Eventually we learn that at the same time he's also been an exemplary highway patrol officer with many commendations. Eventually he learns to be compassionate, caring, and giving when he realizes that he's special to someone. He starts a charitable corporation that becomes one of the biggest nonprofits in the world. Frank's mother is a terrible role model who doesn't want Frank but cruelly keeps him from his father who does want him. Kitty is a great model of loyalty and support, and of not backing down when Frank tries to push her away. Most of Frank's friends and fellow officers are exemplary, except the bad guys, who get their comeuppance.


Several instances of fighting with punching, kicking, slapping, and using blunt weapons. An instance of excessive force shows a highway patrolman beating a handcuffed man with a heavy flashlight. A boy on the ground is repeatedly kicked by a gang of boys. Bloody noses, mouths, and scrapes are shown along with bruising and limping. A motorcycle crash victim is shown bleeding from the ear. Sexual assault is implied and screams are heard; the perpetrator has a bloody mouth and it's implied that he's going to be beaten with a belt. A man threatens a boy with a throat-slitting gesture using a real knife.


A few brief kisses. Some sexual innuendo from sounds, a woman lying in bed, and a woman wearing clingy clothing and dancing suggestively.


"Hell," "ass," "a--hole," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," "Goddammit," "bulls--t," and "piss off."


A few product labels visible incidentally.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frank drinks hard alcohol during the day while recovering from an accident. Several scenes take place in bars and show drinking shots and smoking cigars and cigarettes. Frank smokes cigars and offers them to guests. Cans of beer and bottles of wine and hard liquor are shown on coffee tables. Frank rummages for pills and mentions that he "usually takes a painkiller" at a certain time of day. A witness mentions smoking pot on the night she was arrested. Minor and background characters smoke. Frank smokes a cigar a few times.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wish Man is a biography of the man who started the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His difficult childhood is shown in flashbacks, and themes of parental loss and death are shown. Violence is mostly brawl-type fights that show bloody noses, bruising, and limping, but there's one fairly explicit scene of a highway patrolman using excessive force, beating a handcuffed man in the head with a large flashlight. A sexual assault is implied by hearing screams and seeing loosened clothing. A fair sprinkling of "s--t," "damn," and "a--hole." Frank drinks during the day while on medical leave and smokes cigars. Several scenes take place in bars, and coffee tables in homes are strewn with beer cans and liquor bottles. Painkiller addiction is implied by rummaging through drawers until a pill bottle is found and mentioning usually taking a painkiller at a certain time of day. Pot smoking is mentioned. Some background smoking in bars is shown.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11, 15, and 16-year-old Written bymegsy18 July 19, 2020

Fight for Life

Good for older children and teens.It's the story behind the Wish foundation. The main character struggles with alcohol for a lot of the movie. His tough ch... Continue reading
Adult Written byLuli1962 June 2, 2020

Don’t waste your time

I love real life movies! The first five minutes of this movie make me invite my husband to continue watching. I wish I have not! Worst movie in months! Repetiti... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

WISH MAN tells the story of Arizona highway patrolman Frank Shankwitz (Andrew Steel), from his difficult childhood to his struggles with apathy and self pity after a bad motorcycle crash. While still on leave and under investigation for excessive use of force, Frank meets Michael, a young boy with a terminal illness who worships motorcycle police thanks to a popular TV show about them. Through getting to know Michael and making his dreams come true in the short time he has left, as well as his growing relationship with Kitty (Kirby Bliss Blanton), Frank learns what it's like to be special to someone else. More important, he manages to channel that feeling into an organization that's become one of the world's biggest, granting hundreds of thousands of wishes to kids with critical illnesses.

Is it any good?

This is a well-meaning and sentimental biopic that genuinely pulls at the heartstrings, eventually. But Wish Man is too long, often getting bogged down by extensive flashbacks and side stories that slow things down instead of enhancing the story. The acting's OK, but the script is a little amateurish, with dialogue that often seems forced or unrealistic. Viewers will learn positive messages about how valuable feeling like you matter to someone, knowing you can help, and having compassion are. Strong language, lots of alcohol, and mature themes make it best for teens and up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Wish Man portrays Frank. Is he a good role model? What are his character strengths and weaknesses? What does he learn?

  • What about all the drinking, smoking, and painkillers? Is any of it glamorized? Is it realistic? How much is too much in movies, games, books?

  • Did you know about the Make a Wish Foundation before you saw this movie? What are some ways you can show compassion and give help when someone needs it?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

Character Strengths

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