In October, The Walt Disney Firm hailed its one hundredth birthday, marking the centennial of the day the brothers Walt and Roy Disney based a studio to supply silent one-reel comedies. (Mickey Mouse wouldn’t be born till 1928, so anticipate one other shindig in 5 years.) As a celebration favor, the corporate provides us “Wish,” an amiable, young-skewing trifle that casually retcons Disney’s whole again catalog right into a single magical universe. Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, speaking mice, autonomous flying scissors, Cinderella’s fairy godmother — heck, even Disneyland’s nightly fireworks — can hereafter hint their roots to this animated prequel set on a Mediterranean island dominated by a silver-pompadoured sorcerer named King Magnifico (the voice of Chris Pine) and his spouse, Queen Amaya (Angelique Cabral).
Magnifico is a beloved autocrat who protects his folks from the ache of failure. Upon their 18th birthday, his residents hand him their coronary heart’s need — to journey, to fly, to encourage, every hope represented as an orb bursting from their chest — and wait round for Magnifico to grant their want. Mix a helicopter father or mother, a religion healer and a non-F.D.I.C.-insured financial institution and also you get the concept.
The administrators Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, working from a script by Jennifer Lee and Allison Moore, introduce the island as an idyllic, muted-pastel haven. “Hola! Shalom! Salaam!” a information beams to a ship of vacationers. This greeter, 17-year-old Asha (Ariana DeBose), encourages guests to relocate. Everybody adores this, er, magical kingdom.
Till Asha flubs a job interview with Magnifico and realizes his flaw. The wishers are pressured to neglect no matter it was they most needed, which prevents these whose goals stay unfulfilled — like her mom (Natasha Rothwell) and grandfather (Victor Garber) — from undertaking them on their very own. What to do? The answer is identical as in each Disney cartoon: our heroine runs up a hill, hair swinging, and belts a ballad about longing.
Proper on cue, down comes an anthropomorphic star, a personality who’s each primordial (right here, it predates the “When You Want Upon” lullabye) and patronizingly modern-looking with stubby legs, a cutesy heart-shaped face and mannerisms cribbed from E.T. In contrast with the film’s retro-styled pet goat (Alan Tudyk, the comedian aid) and diverse throwback forest animals, the star appears to be like as if it ought to be hitting the membership with some emojis.
Oddly — and relatively fascinatingly — it is a movie a couple of non secular revolution. Can Asha, a humanist, persuade the islanders to reject the person within the embroidered gown who preaches that he alone is a conduit for miracles? In “I’m a Star,” a jaunty anthem aimed squarely at theater camps, the songwriters Benjamin Rice and Julia Michaels tout the superior energy of nature (and Disney inventory) with this lyrical clunker: “In the case of the universe, we’re all shareholders.” The standout tune, “Figuring out What I Know Now,” is propelled by heavy, marvelous percussion; the remaining are earnest and generic, though DeBose’s staccato cadence does its greatest to puncture the saccharine. Even Magnifico’s peevish quantity, “This Is the Thanks I Get?!,” is overstuffed with chipper doo-doo-doos and would possibly, to the cynical, sound like a becoming birthday tune for the hard-working media conglomerate: “I give and provides and provides and provides,” he huffs. “You’d suppose they’d all be content material.”
Rated PG for neon-green depictions of black magic. Working time: 1 hour 32 minutes. In theaters.