Peace, freedom and diversity. When Wish kicks off and tells the story of the utopian little kingdom of Rosas in the Mediterranean, it feels like Disney is directly commenting on the current situation with a message of peace. Rosas is a place where everyone can participate. The king is kind, handsome and masters magic.
But utopia, as we know, means "nowhere". And so it turns out that the good king is actually more of an enlightened despot. Pretty soon a tyrant who becomes more Machiavellian with each questioning (voiced by Peter Jöback who seems to enjoy playing evil). The kingdom is harmonious precisely because the king has taken all dreams from the people, in a sneaky pyramid scheme where everyone hopes to one day get their wish.
The young Asha (Daniela Rathana) takes on the thankless role of calling out the king, when all the people still love him. To help her, she has a mischievous star, a talking goat and a half-talented group of friends.
Marking Disney's 100th anniversary, The Wish has a delightful retro feel that picks the best out of older Disney: happy chickens dancing, really evil black magic, and an abundance of talking animals. However, the heroine doesn't have to be a friend, Snow White or Marion. Asha is as clumsy and brave as Anna in Frozen or Merida in Brave, a heroine type who is actually starting to get a bit worn out.
The core duo Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee made the smash hit Frozen, and it's mainly the script that makes Desire so good. The people are oppressed, but they don't know it. They have given up their inner worlds for safety and food on the table. It is perfectly possible to interpret Wish as a neoliberal propaganda film, that everyone can become the smith of their own success. But you can just as easily see it as a tribute to the difficult and troublesome democracy. And a reminder to always be skeptical of charismatic leaders.
Unfortunately, the music is very weak. Occasionally swinging but with such advanced musical arrangements that it becomes impossible to sing along to. Probably the power ballad Something More (This Wish) will be worn out on the radio this Christmas, but the kids would probably still rather roar along to the Frozen hit Let it go.