Image Entertainment // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Neal Masri (Retired) // November 16th, 2010
Everyone's sweet 16 is special, Abby's is magical.
This vehicle for another of Disney's homegrown stars aims fairly low and squarely hits the mark.
Abby Jenson (Debby Ryan, The Suite Life on Deck) turns 16 today. She has a list of 16 wishes for her 16th birthday that she has kept for years. The list includes your basic stuff: a car, meeting her favorite pop star, having her own bathroom and other wishes a typical 16 year old might have. Through the intervention of a mysterious stranger (Anna Mae Routledge, 2012), Abby's dreams start to come true one by one. Lots of slo-mo shots of Abby sporting new outfits, her life is transformed into the one she always dreamed it would be. But, she doesn't seem to like what she has become. Will Abby learn that she should watch out what she wishes for?
OK, let's go ahead and get this out of the way. 16 Wishes is not a movie I would normally seek out, let alone watch. That said, let's try and judge it on its own merits, shall we?
Round the clock kids entertainment channels did not exist when I was a kid. Consequently, this sort of fare was reserved for the venerable after school special, some flavor of animated show or the occasional theatrical release. With all that TV time to fill in the modern era, Disney has tried to develop a crop of kid stars for cross platform fame in music, movies, and TV series. Debby Ryan is one such product as a star of The Suite Life on Deck on the Disney Channel. She has a fairly pleasant screen presence and comes off at ease in front of the camera. It's unfortunate that she doesn't have a better vehicle this time around.
The plot, writing and dialogue break no new ground. By way of example, if you're wondering how many times in one movie you can work in the line "I know...right?," this movie may hold your answer. The material is derivative of other, better movies and the acting is average at best. The teen stars are likable enough and unrealistically acne-free. However, I was not swept away by any of them. Disney's strategy seems to be if they push these kids on us hard enough, we will eventually relent and make another one of them the cash cow that is Hannah Montana.
The Blu-ray's 1080p video quality is good but not great. The vivid color palette comes through nicely and sharpness is good. Black levels could be a bit deeper, but all in all this is a solid presentation. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is somewhat restrained mainly accentuating the music (particularly the oft repeated theme song). The disc is rounded out by a fairly anemic batch of extras consisting of a video for the aforementioned title song, a couple of cast interviews and a trailer.
On the plus side, 16 Wishes works in a positive message of how superficial and materialistic desires are not the key to happiness. It's a message one will likely see coming a mile away and will be a surprise to exactly none of the viewers of this movie. While it makes for nice counter-programming to nauseating fare like My Super Sweet 16, 16 Wishes does not have much to offer its target demo that they haven't seen before. If only all entertainments of this sort had the insight and laughs of something like Mean Girls, the world and basic cable would be a better place.
As a reviewer, I try to judge a movie based on what it sets out to achieve and how well it achieves those goals. As a made-for-TV confection meant to wile away about two hours of your average tween's life, 16 Wishes is a mild success. For anyone wanting to be entertained on any higher a level, look elsewhere.
Not guilty, if you're a 12 year old. Otherwise, don't bother.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Music Video