Starring Joey King, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park. Elizabeth Rohm, Sherilyn Fenn and Ryan Phillipe
Written by Barbara Marshall
Directed by John R. Leonetti
Reviewed by Patrick & Paul Gibbs
Wish Upon is NOT one of those films.
Our teen heroine, Clare Shannon (Joey King) has been plagued by this recurring nightmare since childhood, reliving in her dreams what is decidedly the most traumatizing moment of her life (and this is a girl who has been in multiple Roland Emmerich films.). She now lives at home with her Dad (Ryan Phillipe), who spends most of his time dumpster diving with his token black friend, friend Carl (ever notice how white people have names like Lenny, whereas black people have names like Carl?).
At school, Clare has her two besties, Meredith (Sydney Park) and June (Stranger's Things' Shannon Purser, a.k.a Barb.) The three like, talk and take selfies and totally do other besty type things, which is why they are like, total besties. But unfortunately, the school bitch, Gina (Alice Lee) has it in for them, and she like, totally destroys the mural Claire made to advertise the big dance by throwing a drink at it (the mural, not the dance.). Later that same day, Claire and Gina get into a girl fight in the cafeteria, but it's, like, not even hot (teenagers are shallow and stupid. Remember that.).
When Claire gets home, her Dad gives her a present: a thing he and Carl found in the garbage! Specifically, it's a box with Chinese writing on it, and since Clare is studying Mandarin in school (and also likes things), Dad naturally thought of her. Studying the writing on the box, Clare discovers that it can supposedly grant seven wishes. Not taking the promise seriously, she wishes that " Gina would just like, just go rot." The next morning, Gina wakes up to find that her skin is literally rotting away in several places, and when Clare gets to school she learns that Gina has necrotizing fascitiitis, and she is going to lose some toes, part of the flesh on her leg and even some of her face. Claire and her besties (especially Meredith) react to this news with unbridled glee. That's right: a girl is losing several toes and part of her face, but since she's like, a total bitch, the characters we are supposed to be rooting for are celebrating, because that's what teenagers do, of course. (Teenagers are shallow and stupid. Remember that.).
The cast is mostly capable, but can't do anything with the material: King overacts her most emotional scenes and Phillipe sleepwalks (is this really all he can get these days?). Purser and especially Park do their best to make something out of the horribly written roles, and its a testament to Park's charisma that she manages to make a somewhat positive impression while playing the most obnoxious character in the film.
That's not to say that the film has a slick, big budget look. For a studio release, this looks and plays remarkably like a student film, and the cinematography looks like digital video in the same way that something you shot on your phone does, not like a master craftsman making a movie with cutting edge technology.
It's very hard to believe that anyone out there is going to find this movie enjoyable, as it fails to provide scares, thrills, drama, or any intentional laughs. And if teens do enjoy it, that should not be seen as a defense of the film, but as an indictment of the meager quality of entertainment choices aimed at that audience. The Hunger Games was a phenomenon because it was so far above most of what is aimed at that age range, and frankly, even Twilight was slightly above average. If we care about our teen audiences (and our teen actors), we need to start respecting them. We need more Edge of Seventeens, Stranger Things and Spider-Man: Homecomings that portray kids as people (and intelligent ones at that) in compelling situations. Teenagers are only shallow and stupid if we teach them that they are. Remember that.
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