Wish Upon

It’s the four-leaf clover of doom!

H mmmm … the family dog doesn’t usually die when I make a wish. Oh well. Probably unrelated. Whatchagonnado?  “For my second wish …” Ok, so the dialogue isn’t quite that callous in Wish Upon, but the action –oddly enough- is. Teenage punching bag Claire (Joey King) gets a magic wish-granting box and when she discovers there are consequences – really severe life and death consequences – it doesn’t stop her wishing. You’re an inspiration to us all.

Claire doesn’t seem especially sociopathic. Quite the contrary, early on. Her bike to school is hindered by her personal bully, Darcie (Josephine Langford), but that doesn’t stop her from helping her elderly uncle get the newspaper he could more easily have gotten without her help. She even goes easy on dad (Ryan Phillippe, a cautionary tale as to what happens when your Tiger Beat heart throbbiness wears off) who has taken to dumpster diving in full view of the parking lot where Claire attends high school. In fact, Claire seems pretty well adjusted for a girl who watched her mom commit suicide ten years earlier.

Dad’s treasure hunting unearths a strangely pristine relic the size of a cake box. He brings it home to Claire, who ignores the dire warnings written in ancient Chinese and makes the box her new centerpiece. While touching the box, she absent-mindedly wishes Darcie would “just rot.” Lo and behold, the following morning Darcie develops necrotizing fasciitis or “plot convenient antagonist rot.” Hmmm, what a coincidence. And Claire’s dog dies. Hmmm, what a coincidence.

Seriously, I’m not kidding here. Claire figures out the connection almost instantly and doesn’t stop wishing. Well, what does it matter, kiddo? Dog here, human there. No biggie. The deaths are standard Final Destination stuff, the universe pushes just enough to take a life and then stops. My favorite involved next-door neighbor Mrs. Deluca (Sherliyn Fenn, a cautionary tale for, damn, where do I begin?) getting her hair caught in the garbage disposal. The important part here is Claire knows damn well that her selfishness has immediate dire consequences and yet doesn’t stop being selfish. This film ought to be an anthem for the “global warming is a myth” crowd.

For all the stupid of Wish Upon, I did enjoy the general message of the picture which comes in two lessons: 1) Be careful what you wish for and 2) There is no free lunch (so to speak). Honestly, I’ve long waited for the Harry Potter world to get the second message, but I’ve a feeling at this point it probably won’t. There are very few universal “goods” in the world. (i.e. times where good things can happen without a balance in the bad column) Beauty takes pain, money takes work, health takes exercise. The list is endless. However, nobody is going to confuse Wish Upon for a moral treatise – your heroine is a serious jerk. And you can hide her behind a façade of “oh, I feel bad” and “I really shouldn’t,” but at the end of the day, if you know your greedy actions cause innocent people to die, you kinda have to switch directions, no?

♪When you wish upon a box
Pandora, dear, avoid the pox
Anything your heart desires
Will make you rue♫

Rated PG-13, 90 Minutes
D: John R. Leonetti
W: Barbara Marshall
Genre: Screwing with the pre-screwed
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: Fans of ACA Repeal (“Random people die if my wish comes true … I’m ok with that.”)
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: Fans of the noble protagonist

♪ Parody inspired by “When You Wish Upon a Star”

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