7 Reasons Wish’s Rotten Tomatoes Score Is So Divisive

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Summary

  • Wish fixates on an old Disney formula, with audiences appreciating the homage to classic fairy tales while critics find it lazy writing.
  • Numerous references to other Disney movies appear in Wish, appealing to fans but distracting critics from the plot and characters.
  • Wish tackles heavy themes like religion, receiving praise from audiences for its message but criticism from those who see it as an attack on faith.

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Disney’s newest animated movie, Wish, received extremely divisive Rotten Tomatoes critic and audience scores due to vastly differing expectations. In celebration of the animation studio’s 100th anniversary, Disney created Wish, a musical fantasy filled with magic. This movie follows a young woman named Asha who works to save her kingdom from a corrupt monarch with the help of her goat sidekick and a magical star.

After Disney’s multiple recent box office and ratings failures, fans and critics alike had high hopes for Wish. Unfortunately, the Rotten Tomatoes scores paint a startling and confusing picture. Wish received a “rotten” critic score of 48 percent; whereas, audiences responded overwhelmingly positively to the movie, giving it an 82 percent. By looking at the reviews more thoroughly, it’s clear the two demographics had vastly different expectations going into the film.

Related: Wish Ending Explained

7 Wish Fixates On An Old Disney Formula

Critics And Audiences Disagree On The Merits Of Homage

Asha wishes on a star while standing on a tree branch in Disney's Wish.

As an homage to Disney’s hundred years of animation, Wish returns to the days of good versus evil stories. The basic formula came from old fairytales and has appeared in classic movies like Cinderella and Snow White. Though Asha is not technically a Disney princess, Wish fits the requirements to be labeled a Disney princess movie. As such, audiences feel it is appropriate that writers revert to the old tropes as a way to pay respect to the movies that came before.

However, critics seem more inclined to label this lazy writing. Michael J. Casey from Boulder Weekly compared the movie to “a script ChatGPT spit out using Disney prompts.” Critics hoped Wish would add something new to the conversation or take more risks, as previous Disney movies have done. Ultimately, the fixation on the idea of good versus evil left critics feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.

6 Numerous References To Other Disney Movies Appear In Wish

References Appeal To Disney Fans But Not Critics

Wish was created as a love letter to 100 years of Disney animation, a nearly impossible feat for a single movie. This movie packs in as many Easter eggs and movie references as possible to celebrate the centennial. In fact, Wish’s trailer included at least 23 Easter eggs alone. Unfortunately, this choice has led to extremely divided responses from audiences and critics.

Like the hidden Mickeys at the Disney parks, these small nods create an enjoyable game for Disney fans. There will undoubtedly be friendly competitions to see who can find the most Easter Eggs. However, critics seem less appreciative of this movie element. Rob Thomas fromMadison Movie called Wish “one of those picture puzzles where you circle all the hidden objects on the page.” Multiple critics agreed with this notion, saying the references distracted from the movie’s plot and characters.

5 Wish Tackles Heavy Themes Like Religion

Wish Is Being Praised And Criticized For Its Messages

Residents of Rosas look up smiling in Disney's Wish.

Disney has never shied away from covering serious topics like generational trauma, parental death, and prejudice in their animated movies. However, some critics think Disney took it too far with Wish. The movie involves Asha protecting the people of Rosas by discouraging them from following blind faith in King Magnifico. This message has been twisted into an attack on religion. Matthew Lickona of the San Diego Reader wrote, “Disney’s latest animated effort goes full Carl ‘We Are Star Stuff’ Sagan and takes aim at the Judeo-Christian God.” This kind of negative response shows that not everyone is happy with Disney changing to match current cultural ideals.

While criticism on this issue has come from both sides, more audience members seem inclined to praise the message instead of condemning it. With governmental and religious scandals coming out, it makes sense that audience members would appreciate the push toward humanism. Ultimately, Wish recognizes that not all authority is positive and should be implicitly trusted, which reflects our modern-day society.

Related: Wish’s Post-Credits Scene & Disney Surprises Explained

4 Magnifico Comes Across As A One-Dimensional Villain In Wish

Critics Miss The Well-Rounded Villains In Recent Disney Movies

In recent years, Disney has swayed away from traditional fairytale villains whose only personality trait is that they’re evil. Instead, modern antagonists have underlying motivations and driving forces that lead them to make destructive decisions. Examples of this can be found in Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon. However, Disney’s Wish returns to the studio’s old ways when creating King Magnifico.

Many fans have praised Wish for bringing back the traditional Disney villain. King Magnifico is menacing and scary in the same way as Jafar and the animated version of Maleficent. Wish even continues a Disney villain trend by making his magic green. Critics disagree, though, denigrating the character for his one-dimensional personality. Kenneth R. Morefield from 1More Film Blog writes, “[G]ood storytelling recognizes that there can be different kinds of antagonists besides just the evil-because-he-is-evil villain.” This is another example that critics point to as lazy writing. Ultimately, there is no way Wish could have made both the audience and critics happy because the desires are diametrically at odds.

3 Wish Is Meant To Celebrate Disney’s Centennial

Audiences And Critics Have Higher Expectations Because Wish Marks 100 Years Of Disney

Asha and a star touch fingers in Disney's Wish.

Every bit of Wish‘s marketing promoted the movie as a celebration of Disney’s centennial. While this excited fans and critics alike, it also created extremely high expectations. Whatever came out needed better animation, characters, storylines, and music than ever seen before; otherwise, it wouldn’t be worthy of being the movie released on the hundredth anniversary. Unfortunately, critics believe Wish didn’t meet this nearly impossible standard.

As Devan Coggan of Entertainment Weekly kindly put it, “If you’re going to pay tribute to 100 years of Disney magic, you can’t forget to save a little magic for yourself.” This matches the general critic belief that Wish focused on the magic of Disney at the expense of its own magic. However, audience members disagree with this sentiment. They think the filmmakers created a great tribute to 100 years of Disney.

2 Wish Uses Combination of 2D And 3D Animation

Wish’s Animation Style Receives Split Reactions

The animation style of Wish was ambitious, combining 2D scenery and 3D characters in a way similar to Disney’s Paperman short that played before Wreck-It Ralph. Frank Swietek of One Guy’s Opinion describes both the movie and the animation style as “[trying] to blend the old and the new but [winding] up uneasily straddling the line between them.” Many critics agree that the visuals are flimsy at best and similar to the straight-to-VHS sequels of the ‘90s.

Not every critic agrees with this sentiment though. Brittany Murphy of Muses of Mediacompliments the movie’s “jaw-droppingly gorgeous animation, lovable characters, beautiful songs and an essential message” The audience seems to agree with the latter sentiment more, complimenting how beautiful Disney’s Wish‘s Rosas and Asha are. The animation creates division not only between the audience and critic Rotten Tomatoes scores but also individual critic scores.

1 Wish Includes Excellent Music And Vocalists

Oscar Winner Ariana DeBose’s Vocals Make Up For Wish’s Weaknesses

Asha surrounded by glowing orbs and looking amazed in Wish.

While most of the movie calls back to older Disney films, the Wish soundtrack takes a different approach. The original songs created for the film combine modern styles with characteristics traditional of Disney Broadway soundtracks. This creates a blended, theatrical sound for Wish. Many critics think Grammy-nominated artist Julia Michaels did a phenomenal job creating something that feels fresh and unique. Not everyone agrees on this matter though. Fico Cangiano of CineXpress writes, “Several fun songs aren’t enough to make the film stand out or be memorable” (translated from Spanish). This creates another instance where there’s a division in individual critic scores.

Despite this, almost every negative critic review agrees that Ariana DeBose saves Wish‘s soundtrack from obscurity. Oscar-winning actress DeBose’s warm tones and strong belts give Asha a distinctive vocal sound that simultaneously stands out and fits in with other Disney princesses. Bill Goodykoontz from Arizona Republic said, “What saves the film from being nothing but a rehash [is] DeBose, whose singing voice unsurprisingly shines…” Ultimately, no matter where critics land on Wish, they can all agree that DeBose is an incredibly talented singer.

Sources: Rotten Tomatoes, Boulder Weekly, Madison Movie, San Diego Reader, 1More Film Blog, Entertainment Weekly. One Guy’s Opinion, Muses of Media, Arizona Republic

  • Disney Wish Poster

    Wish

    Release Date:
    2023-11-22

    Director:
    Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn

    Cast:
    Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Alan Tudyk, Dee Bradley Baker, Frank Welker

    Rating:
    PG

    Runtime:
    95 Mins

    Genres:
    Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

    Writers:
    Jennifer Lee, Allison Moore

    Studio(s):
    Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Distributor(s):
    Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures