In the participating animated function “Wish Dragon,” a teenage boy comes into possession of a magic teapot containing a world-weary dragon who’s obliged to grant him three needs.
The film is geared towards youngsters, however for anybody sufficiently old to bear in mind the Disney Renaissance, there ought to be a déjà vu warning: Netflix’s latest animation effort is actually Disney’s “Aladdin” transposed to Shanghai. John Cho, who voices Long, the dragon, does his greatest impression of Robin Williams, who lent his voice to the fast-talking Genie within the 1992 Disney animation. But with out the catchy songs and intergenerational attraction, this film can solely want to measure up to that traditional.
When the story begins, Din (Jimmy Wong) is a genial, imaginative little one who quickly befriends Li Na (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), a fellow troublemaker at school. The pair is proven cavorting in a best-friend montage that screeches to a halt when Li Na’s father strikes her out of their humble neighborhood, saying, “We’re off to a better life, and we have to leave this one behind.”
Fast-forward by a decade: A classy Li Na seems on billboards round city, whereas Din lives in the identical cramped condo together with his mom (Constance Wu), and works as a meals supply boy, all of the whereas craving to win again his companion in crime. If solely a magical dragon might assist Din bluff his approach into Li Na’s moneyed circle.
Here, the film goes full people story. Some moments, similar to when Long’s voice turns squeaky-high as he squeezes again into his itty-bitty teapot house, appear to explicitly quote “Aladdin,” not to point out the airborne date Din and Li Na have on a flying dragon.
The largest break from method arrives via Long, the want granter. Unlike the Genie, Long possesses a compelling human again story and follows an outlined character arc. Absent a razzle-dazzle manufacturing quantity akin to “Friend Like Me,” endowing the dragon with some emotional depth is the least this film, directed by Chris Appelhans, might do. “Wish Dragon” is a transporting expertise, nevertheless it’s removed from a complete new world.
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. Watch on Netflix.