By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Sadly, Wish Dragon is a very paint by numbers Disney-style product. It has elements of Aladdin, Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon all mixed in, and I’m fairly sure writer/director Chris Appelhans even drew upon the song When I Wish Upon a Star for inspiration. This blending delivers on the meaning behind the lyrics, “The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing…” but fails when considering other details. This work can’t decide if it wants to be a social commentary/comedy ala Crazy Rich Asians or a tween romance. The balancing act isn’t well done.
The introduction establishes Din (Jimmy Wong) and Li (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) as kids promising to be best friends forever, a la Lilo & Stitch. Both are troublemakers and it’s cute to see them together. Unlike this franchise, they eventually get separated. The girl becomes a model and has forgotten about her past. Her dad’s motives are good, but it turns out he has an “evil” agenda. He’s searching for that magic lamp to grant him a better life for his family.