You Wish!

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
You Wish! Movie Poster Image
Familiar but well-told fantasy tale has positive messages.
  • NR
  • 2003
  • 87 minutes

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

Educational Value

Characters discuss multiverse theory and folklore.

Positive Messages

Messages include appreciating what you've got, strong sibling relationship, loyal friends, and questioning social barriers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex's wish for his little brother, Stevie, to disappear comes true but he's quick to realize his mistake and put things right. When Alex becomes one of the popular kids, he feels unhappy and alienated from his real friends. Jocks and popular girls are shown as one-dimensional and mean-spirited.

Violence & Scariness

Kids simulate war movie combat in woods with goo guns and walkie-talkies. Bullies dump a pizza on two kids' heads and punch one's arm. Character tips milk over another character's head. Painful football tackles. Mention of "gouging eyes out" in folklore. Character watches a horror movie on TV featuring a mummy chasing a screaming character through a cemetery.

Sexy Stuff

Kiss on the cheek. Teen crushes.


"Stupid," "butt," "poo," and "jerk" are used infrequently.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that You Wish! is a thoughtful 2003 Disney TV Movie -- based on Jackie French Koller's YA novel, If I Had One Wish -- that tells the classic "be careful what you wish for" tale. Teenager Alex (A.J. Trauth) quickly realizes his new life -- achieved thanks to a magic coin -- isn't as good as he thought it would be and learns to appreciate his family and friends. These positive life lessons are handled well, without sentiment, leading to some charming, heartwarming, and thought-provoking results. The main friendship group is shown as tight and caring. Jocks and other popular high school kids are depicted as one-dimensional and mean. Bullies put pizzas on two boys' heads and punch one on the arm. In one scene, filmed like a war movie, friends play with water guns. A character has milk poured over their head. Discussing folklore, there is mention of eyes being gouged out. Characters watch a horror movie on TV featuring a mummy chasing a screaming woman through a cemetery. Teen characters are attracted to each other and there is talk of dating, but the romance only goes as far as a kiss on the cheek. There is occasional mild language, such as "butt," "poo," and "jerk."

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What's the story?

In YOU WISH!, 16-year-old Alex (A.J. Trauth) is fed up with his little brother, Stevie (Spencer Breslin). So much so that when he receives a magic coin, Alex wishes Stevie would disappear. However, when Stevie does indeed magically disappear, Alex realizes the life he had is the one he actually wants.

Is it any good?

The well-trodden "one wish" cautionary tale about how life could be, is dependable, compelling, and -- when it works -- highly satisfying. 2003'sYou Wish! nails it, thanks to some genuinely funny moments and believable teen characters that round out the movie's rich world. When Alex erases his brother Stevie from existence -- thanks to a magic coin -- Alex finds himself as a TV star of a show called Where's Stevie? This sci-fi undercurrent injects an intelligent, sometimes mind-bending element that beefs up the story and avoids it from being a generic rehash of a familiar theme. 

The movie's "grass is always greener" message is also surprisingly deep. In the new "no-Stevie" universe, it emerges that the extra money not spent on Stevie allowed Alex's parents to send him to football camp and become the star quarterback. It's just one example of the smart writing that, together with some charming performances and laugh-out-loud moments, elevates You Wish! to a fun TV movie of feature film quality.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the overriding message is in You Wish! Why is the "be careful what you wish for" story told so often and why does it remain so compelling? What other examples of this story can you think of?

  • How does the movie explore the concept of gratitude? Why is this a good character strength to have? What are you grateful for?

  • Before Alex realizes he's not friends with Abby and James in his new life, he talks to them like he is. Do you change how you behave depending on who you are with? If so, why?

  • Why do you think Alex wished he didn't have a brother? Why do you think he comes to regret that wish? Talk about your own relationships with your brothers and sisters.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Character Strengths

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