Disney Wish 2023 Movie Reviews: Critics Share Strong First Reactions

By Richard Nebens Updated:
sha (voice of Ariana DeBose) in Disney Wish movie

Disney hosted press screenings for its 62nd animated theatrical movie, Wish, with critics sharing strong initial reviews for the new outing.

Oscar-nominee Ariana DeBose will team up with former DC/Star Trek fan-favorite Chris Pine and Disney legend Alan Tudyk for Wish, a story about 17-year-old Asha, who wishes on a star that falls from the sky to help her save her kingdom.

The film looks to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary with a suspenseful story featuring themes of betrayal and darkness, with fans hoping to see Disney recover after other films like Strange World flopped badly both financially and critically.

Critics Share Strong Reviews for Disney’s Wish

Disney Wish Asha

Following the first public press screenings for Disney’s Wish, critics shared their first reviews and reactions to the film on X, most of them being quite positive.

Variety’s Clayton Davis highlighted the film’s Easter Eggs and the way it celebrates "100 years of the famed studio" while also praising stars Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine for their efforts, particularly Pine's villain song:

"'Wish' is the celebration of 100 years of the famed studio with Easter Eggs galore. Surprisingly, thematically, it was more rich than I would have anticipated. I'd argue, maybe a little depressing? 

Ariana DeBose brings the house down as one of our great modern-day  princesses. Villain song, 'This is the Thanks I Get,' is out of this world by Chris Pine. The foot tapping group number 'Knowing What I Know Now' is my favorite. "This Wish" will likely be the big push. Gorgeous animation."

The Wrap’s Drew Taylor praised the way the film combined "next gen technology with timeless storytelling," teasing something never seen before that also feels like something familiar:

"Combining next gen technology with timeless storytelling, 'Wish' looks like nothing you’ve seen before and feels exactly like your favorite Disney animated feature — whatever it is. A celebration of hope, community and self actualization and 100  years of Disney magic. Loved it"

Variety's Courtney Howard called the film "ENCHANTING & DAZZLING" while highlighting the way Disney "blends classical & modern techniques brilliantly" throughout Wish:

"'Wish' is ENCHANTING & DAZZLING. A magical, inspiring fairy tale & heroine for a new generation. I was swept away by the animation & musical splendor that blends classical & modern techniques brilliantly. Ariana DeBose & Chris Pine shine bright."

Critic Jordie Poblete was "happily surprised" by Wish, praising the "beautiful matte look for its animation" and celebrating how easy the characters are to love while complimenting the music as well:

"Happily surprised at how Disney’s 'Wish' was. Nothing typical about it, from a story that doesn’t let go from the beginning, beautiful m

atte look for its animation, characters easy to adore, and a masterful take on 'Disney music' by Julia Michaels. Disney Animation be so proud!!"

Nightmarish Conjuring's Sarah Musnicky proclaimed Wish to have "a message that we can all get behind," celebrating the Star character but also noting that the movie is "not as strong as it could be:"

"'Wish' has a message that we can all get behind. Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, & Alan Tudyk soar. The beloved Star will steal everyone's hearts & trigger cute aggression. That said, it's not as strong as it could be, w/ song & animation choices that lack lasting impact."

Fandom's Eric Goldman described Wish as "a well done and sweet 'take a bow' movie" to celebrate Disney's 100th anniversary, pointing out the deliberate choice to tell "a very classic-style story" that twists things for the modern audience:

"Disney's 'Wish' is a well done and sweet 'take a bow' movie for the 100th anniversary, purposely telling a very classic-style story with some modern twists. My favorite aspects are the delightfully animated silent Star, and King Magnifico, who gets a true villain origin story.

Critic Wendy Lee Szany saw Wish as "a fantastic love letter to Disney classics" with incredible animation, calling most of the main characters "extremely cute" while specifically putting Chris Pine's King Magnifico on a pedestal:

"'Wish' is a fantastic love letter to Disney classics. Gorgeous animation. Ariana DeBose is perfect as Asha, Valentino and Star are extremely cute and will steal your heart, but Chris Pine’s King Magnifico is the one to watch. Full review coming soon.

Filmotomy's Doug Jamieson had high praise for Wish, calling it "a tremendous home run for Disney" while proclaiming it to be "a throwback to classic animated musicals" and a heartfelt tribute to Disney history:

"'Wish' is a tremendous home run for Disney. Beautifully animated and filled with so much heart, it's a throwback to classic animated musicals and a loving tribute to 100 years of Disney. Great songs, a moving story, cute sidekicks, and a dastardly villain. Can't ask for much more."

ComicBook.com's Jamie Jirak used the phrase "pure heart" to describe Wish, giving props to the songs and the voice talent while feeling "the care that went into celebrating Disney's 100th:"

"'Wish' is pure heart. You can really feel the care that went into celebrating Disney's 100th. The songs are great, which is always my main concern. Ariana DeBose sounds amazing, Chris Pine oozes villainous charm, and Alan Tudyk is hilarious. But Star is the star!"

Geeks of Doom's Michael Lee praised how much Wish was "a soaring tribute" to Disney's work with "visual storytelling," telling fans that it "pushes the boundaries in blending traditionally hand-drawn and CG animation:"

"'Wish' is a soaring tribute to all of the Disney’s achievements and advancements in visual storytelling. The film pushes the boundaries in blending traditionally hand-drawn and CG animation. Its emotionally nuanced story radiates & the seven songs are destined to be classics! Wow!"

Nerds of Color's Laura Sirikul didn't hold back, calling Wish "the perfect film for the 100th year celebrating Disney" and congratulating the film's development team while proclaiming that it "will win all the awards:"

"'Wish' is amazing. 'Wish' is the perfect film for the 100th year celebrating Disney. It's inspirational, memorable, and just wonderfully done. The music is just beautiful. So many odes to the films of the past. Congrats to the 'Wish' Team! This will win all the awards."

Will Wish Succeed Upon Its Public Release?

Considering how this film marks a milestone landmark for Disney with 100 years of animated storytelling, the studio is certainly hoping that Wish will be the latest hit the way others like Frozen and Moana were before it.

And especially looking back to how Disney's three most recent releases were all called flops at one point in time, the studio should feel optimistic that it's latest princess-centric films will bring fans back to the glory days.

Additionally, after June's Elemental was ultimately deemed a success for Disney after a rough opening weekend at the box office, the hope is that Wish can continue that same upward trend and even get off to a better start.

And though its stars weren't able to attend the world premiere due to the SAG-AFTRA strike (which was since resolved), Disney will look to ramp up its promotional efforts in the coming weeks to build up hype for potential viewers.

Wish is set to debut in theaters on Friday, November 22.

- In This Article: Wish
Release Date
November 22, 2023
Ariana DeBose
Chris Pine
- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.