Science fiction and fantasy
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
directed by Lev L. Spiro
When the family go on holiday their three children are bored to tears by their parents' memories of the way they first met. What's more, her mother (Maria Canals-Barrera) restricts Alex's freedom and forbids her from doing whatever she wants to. Frustrated, Alec wishes her parents had never met. Unfortunately she accidentally conjures a spell which means she and her brothers will cease to exist unless she figures out how to undo it. The siblings only have a short time to reverse the spell before they disappear completely. Bickering all the way, they set off to find an artefact that they hope will save them, the Stone of Dreams.
There's adventure as the family brave a number of dangers in the jungles of the Caribbean resort. That's danger in the sense of mild excitement, rather than the kind that involves hostile natives, wild animals and death-defying leaps all in the same scene. It's not Indiana Jones. Instead the film concentrates on the funny situations that arise from family tensions, or from parents who have forgotten who their own children are.
The story is quite predictable. Since this is a children's movie that's not necessarily a bad thing, since it means the plot is easy for young viewers to follow. The tone is very light, and Alex does get more likeable as we get further into the story. It all moves towards a sugary ending, however.
Putting magic in the hands of an ordinary, somewhat careless family is as close as Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie comes to being unorthodox. And even here it's not entirely original, covering similar ground to Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the 1960s TV series Bewitched, for instance. This is a bland, harmless, cute movie, with a touch of the extreme sweetness that's so characteristic of Disney.
17th April 2010
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