Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wish Upon a Star (1996)

(Viewed for The 2nd Annual White Elephant Blogathon.)

* PT: Alexia & Hayley Wheaton. Wadpaw: To get back to their own lives.

* Film involves two sisters, shallow & pretty popular girl Alexia (Katherine Heigl) and introverted science geek Hayley (Danielle Harris), who each learn what the other has to deal with when a spur-of-the-moment wish on a falling star by Hayley results in the two switching bodies. Perfectly innocuous, perfectly dull Disney kidflick mostly marks time until the credits, hitting every obvious point that the sibling-rivalry bodyswitch premise would offer. Gets a little drippy at the end with the hugging and the learning and the sisterly bonding, but such is the genre.

* What it's most valuable for is its indications towards a shift in in-house style for Disney. Every now and then, the plodding predictability of the narrative will be interrupted by some brow-furrowing bit of quirk or an unexpected sideline joke. (I'm thinking in particular of the everlasting evidence of Alexia's science project.) This digressive streak would later get explored further to fine effect by such Disney TV projects as Lizzie McGuire and Kim Possible, though its fullest and most satisfying expression would come with the anarchic, delightfully whacked-out Even Stevens. (That last show is ripe for rediscovery by snarky hipster types. I'm not joking. Can we get an Even Stevens DVD set? Shia's hot right now.)

* There's one scene that makes the whole film worth watching, simply because it's so incredibly bizarre and out-of-place: Alexia-as-Hayley, in an attempt to embarrass her sister, goes to school dressed like a Goth slut and does a lunchtime table dance to some would-be Madonna pop orgasm, while Hayley-as-Alexia, in response, attempts to suck the face off a guy with whom Alexia had broken up with the night of the switch. It's like the film turns into a teenage Dave Friedman film for five minutes. Thus, it's ridiculously misguided and kinda fuckin' awesome.

* I swear to God, there's a Persona shout-out near the end of the film. More young-adult entertainment should reference Bergman in my opinion.

* Katherine Heigl: way cuter here than in anything she's done this decade. I know she's only seventeen in the film, but I gotta calls 'em like I sees 'em.

* Film occasionally loses sight of what its characters are supposed to be. For example, what on Earth would a dim-bulb clotheshorse like Alexia be doing with a Roy Lichtenstein print in her room? For that matter, why would a sensitive, sweet guy like Kyle be doing dating rude bitch Alexia anyway? I know he's a jock, but still -- it don't ring true.

* Leads give serviceable performances -- they're as cute as they need to be. Rest of the cast is basically there to react to the leads, and that's about all they do. Yeah, it's a TV movie.

* Bottom line: Painless timewaster with some unexpected moments of inspiration/amusement. You've seen worse, so have I. In other words, I lucked the fuck out after last year's heinous offering. I can't complain, really.

Grade: C