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"A SIMPLE WISH"
(1997) (Martin Short, Mara Wilson) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor *None Mild Minor Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None Minor Minor Mild Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Children's: A young girl's wish to help her dad is ineptly answered by a bumbling male fairy godmother.
PLOT:
Anabel (MARA WILSON) is a typical young girl who still believes in the tooth fairy and fairy godmothers. It's the latter of those that she asks for a wish to help her dad, Oliver (ROBERT PASTORELLI), to achieve his dream of becoming a Broadway actor. What she gets however, is Murray (MARTIN SHORT), a recent male graduate and new member of NAFGA (the North American Fairy Godmothers Association) who doesn't quite know what he's doing. Instead of turning Oliver into an actor, he turns him into a bronze statue, and suddenly Murray, Anabel, and her older brother Charlie (FRANCIS CAPRA) have until midnight to reverse the spell or it will last forever. Compounding their problems is Claudia (KATHLEEN TURNER), a former member of NAFGA who had her magic wand revoked for being a bad fairy godmother. Claudia wants revenge, and has taken all of the other fairy godmother's wands, except one -- her former one -- that now belongs to Murray. With the assistance of Boots (AMANDA PLUMMER), a former dog, Claudia sets out to find Murray and get back her old wand and thus control the world's wishes. From that point on, it's all Anabel and the others can do to stop Claudia while trying to restore Oliver back to his normal self.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Younger kids might since it's aimed right at them, as might fans of Wilson ("Matilda") or Short (formerly of TV's "Saturday Night Live" and many movies).
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For mild language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MARA WILSON plays a typical young girl who wants to help her dad with his wish.
  • MARTIN SHORT plays the bumbling fairy godmother who is unknowingly annoying at times, and clumsy most of the time, but has good intentions.
  • KATHLEEN TURNER plays the evil former fairy godmother who wants to control all of the world's wishes by stealing all of the magic wands.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    If the average audience member had just one single wish after seeing this movie about fairy godmothers, it would be that the movie turn out better than it does. With such a talented cast and interesting premise, the film should be more fun than it is, yet all but the youngest of children will find it too juvenile and will be bored to tears by it. The movie's target appears to be that very young audience and that, in and by itself, is an admirable goal. Very young children will likely be entertained by the film's goofy antics, such as Martin Short's wild and exaggerated gestures, or a sequence where he and Mara Wilson dance as the film is sped up to exaggerate the scene. While there are a few moments that adults will chuckle at (Murray accidentally turns a man into a rabbi instead of a rabbit), most of the material is uninspired and listless. That term also describes young actress Mara Wilson who used to seem cute and precocious in her roles (in "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Matilda"), but in this film seems distracted and her lines often seem forced. Perhaps that's just her growing up, but her performance doesn't match what she's done before. It will be interesting to see if she can transition into an adult actress (if that's what she wants to do) once her childhood cuteness is gone. Turner ("Romancing the Stone," "Body Heat," etc...) gets to ham it up as the mild villain, but doesn't take her role as far as Glen Close did in the recent remake of "101 Dalmatians." Missing from the big screen for some time now, this doesn't appear to be the vehicle that will bring her back into the Hollywood limelight she once basked in. Martin Short is funny at times, as he often is in movies, but proves once again that his unique characters can't sustain a full-length film. While his caricatures and original creations are often funny and uncannily realistic, they work best in short bits and that's the case here. A little of his goofy characterizations go a long way, and soon you want something more from him. Essentially that's what the film boils down to -- it's cute for a while and you want more, but the movie never delivers. Still, very young kids will probably enjoy it, and as said above, that's a nice feature to promote. It's too bad, however, that the film makers didn't keep the parents, and other older audience members in mind when creating this production. As it stands, we give it "A Simple Wish" a 3 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    There's very little to object to in this film. There are a few minor words of profanity, and one scene involves a mean man with a gun who fires it in the direction of Anabel and Murray. Of course nearly all of the characters are just caricatures, and thus can't be taken that seriously. The villain isn't very scary and her "evil goal" -- to take all of the other wands -- seems quaint in today's violent society (and films). A few scenes may be a little scary to very young kids, but none of it's any worse than in recent G rated Disney animated features. Beyond a few scuffles, some tobacco chewing and a few imitative phrases, there's not much else to object to in this film that nearly could have received a G rating.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Some fairy godmothers drink wine at a reception.
  • Claudia twice drinks some sort of bubbling, smokey concoction from a goblet, but it's impossible to tell what it is.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Murray makes many frogs come out of a singer's mouth, and some kids may find this to be gross (it almost looks like he's throwing up), but it's not bloody or gory.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Murray tries to sneak a peak at other students' answers on their fairy godmother exams.
  • In retaliation for being kicked out of the fairy godmother association, Claudia plots to steal all of their wands so that anyone with a wish will have to come to her. She also states that she always hated listening to children's wishes.
  • Anabel doesn't give Murray's wand to her teacher when asked to do so, and instead runs out of the classroom and hides.
  • Charlie has the usual big brother disrespectful attitude toward Anabel (taking her wand, bursting her bubble about childhood beliefs, etc...) but it's brief and not too meanspirited.
  • The lead actor in a play has both as he throws temper tantrums and belittles others (but eventually this is his undoing).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • A few scenes where Murray casts spells and the wind starts howling and papers blow around and Anabel screams (the first time she sees this) might be a little scary to the very youngest of kids, but not to anyone else.
  • Murray and Anabel encounter an unfriendly hick who fires his shotgun at them. Later, Murray accidentally turns him into a giant who then comes after the two (played for laughs, but very young kids might be a little scared).
  • Claudia's mansion might look a little ominous to young children as might her actions, but again it's not that bad and it's played more for laughs than for fright.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Shotgun: Fired by an old hick at Murray and Anabel when they land in Nebraska.
  • Guillotine: Seen in a play.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Big bunch of bull," "Shut up," "Idiot," "Screwed" (non sexual), "Screwed up," "Who is this nut?", "This stinks," and "Jerk."
  • Murray is (unknowingly) disruptive (making noises, sneezing on others, etc...) in a classroom while taking his fairy godmother exam.
  • Also, Murray tries to sneak a peak at the other students' answers on their exams.
  • Charlie burps in response to Anabel's in one scene.
  • Anabel doesn't give Murray's wand to her teacher when asked to do so, and instead runs out of the classroom and hides.
  • An old hick has chewing tobacco in his mouth and spits the juice at Murray and Anabel. Murray then imitates that man and chews some himself, but quickly spits all of it out.
  • Finding the door to the association building locked, Anabel climbs up over a tall railing (with Murray's help) and climbs through an open window to let Murray and Charlie in.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's a minor amount of suspenseful music in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 2 hells, 1 damn, 1 incomplete "my ass" as in "Fairy godmother my...," and 1 "Oh God" used as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • A limo driver smokes a cigar.
  • An old hick has chewing tobacco in his mouth and spits the juice at Murray and Anabel. Murray then imitates that man and chews some himself, but quickly spits all of it out.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Anabel asks her dad whether her mother went to heaven and became an angel (a very brief scene) and he tells her that part of her mom is with her at all times.
  • Anabel and Charlie must deal with their father being turned into a statue and the prospect that he may remain that way forever, but they don't seem too upset about it.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The existence (or not) of fairy godmothers and other such childhood notions.
  • While this is obviously a fantasy film, there's still a scene that parents should discuss with their kids. Near the beginning, Anabel turns on her bedroom light to find a strange man standing in the corner (Murray). She doesn't panic, but instead accepts him as a fairy godmother.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A woman accidentally hits Murray on his head with her elbow when he peeks over at her exam.
  • Claudia throws a snow shaker into the wall, breaking it.
  • An unfriendly hick fires his shotgun at Murray and Anabel to threaten them. Later, after he's turned into a giant, he steps down onto some old buildings, crushing them under his weight.
  • Anabel punches Charlie after he makes a snide comment to her.
  • Claudia briefly grabs Murray by the throat and later tells him that she's about ready to break every bone in his body (which she sort of does with a spell that renders his whole body as limp as a noodle). She then throws his limp body across the room and into a wall.
  • Boots (who used to be a dog) bites Claudia on the leg.
  • Murray and Claudia wrestle on the floor as they fight to get a wand.
  • Murray uses magic to make an actor trip and fall (and injure his leg) so that Charlie can get the acting role.



  • Reviewed July 8, 1997

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

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