In the engaging animated feature “Wish Dragon”, a teenage boy comes into possession of a magical teapot containing a world-weary dragon that is bound to grant him three wishes.
The movie is made for kids, but there should be a caveat to anyone old enough to remember the Disney renaissance: Netflix’s latest animation effort has essentially relocated Disney’s “Aladdin” to Shanghai. John Cho, who voices Long, the Dragon, makes his best impression of Robin Williams, who voiced the fast-paced Genie in 1992’s Disney Animation. But without catchy songs and generational appeal, this film can only wish to measure up to that classic.
As the story begins, Din (Jimmy Wong) is a friendly, imaginative child who soon befriends Lee Na (Natasha Liu Bordizo), a fellow troubleshooter at school. The pair are shown cavorting in a best-friend montage, which stops when Li Na’s father takes her out of their humble neighborhood, saying, “We’re ready for a better life, and we need to give it a try.” Gotta be left behind.”
Fast forward a decade: A chic Lee Na appears on billboards around town, while Din lives in the same cramped apartment with her mother (Constance Wu), and works as a food delivery boy. Is, all the time longs to win back his partner. Crime I. If only a magical dragon could help deceive Din into Li Na’s money circle.
Here, the film is a complete folk tale. Some moments, like when Long’s voice gets hoarse-high as he squeezes back into his acrid teapot space, it seems Quote “Aladdin” explicitly Din and Li Na have on a flying dragon, not to mention the date in the air.
The biggest break from the formula comes through Long, Wish Granter. Unlike Genie, Long has a compelling human back story and follows a defined character arc. Absent a dazzling production number similar to “Friends Like Me,” ending Dragon with some emotional depth is the least this Chris Appelhans-directed film can do. “Wish Dragon” Is A Transportation Experience, But It’s Far From It whole new world.
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. Watch on Netflix.