(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie)
Doug (vo): Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie. Yet another Disney Channel movie based on a Disney Channel show that I have never watched. Honestly, I didn't even know this is where Selena Gomez came from. Once again, seeing how I haven't seen the show, I can't really compare it to the original source material, but I can say, for a newcomer, I actually followed it surprisingly well. And also, as a newcomer, I actually didn't see it as that bad. My first initial thought was it was gonna be another Harry Potter spin-off, like some of these other Disney Channel movies, but that's not really quite the direction it goes.
Doug (vo): Alex, played by Selena Gomez, is part of a family of wizards that lives on Waverly Place, but they don't stay there long as the mother decides they need to grow closer together. So the family takes a vacation, but the teens, being normal teens, are not having a lot of fun. Alex eventually feels so shut in that she accidentally uses her powers to make it seem like her mom and dad never met. The spell works, the parents have no idea who each other are or the kids, and they seem like completely different people when they're single, using their magic irresponsibly, not caring that much about other people, all the usual stuff. But it looks like they only have 48 hours before reality sets in and the kids themselves will disappear. In fact, their memories already seem to be going. But it just so happens they come across a half-assed magician who used to be a wizard...in fact, the parrot used to be his girlfriend...who has a secret map to the Stone of Dreams, a magical device you can make one wish upon that'll come true. So it's Harry Potter/Even Stevens/Indiana Jones/beach vacation that all these Disney Channel movies seem to like to go on.
Doug (vo): Upon hearing the plot, you wouldn't think very much of the movie, and truth be told, its strength is not in its writing. Its strength is in its performances. In a lot of these Disney Channel movies, you always kind of feel like these actors are shoved together really fast, and yet, they're supposed to act like a family like they've known each other for years, and you can't blame them. I doubt they had much rehearsal and they have to just go. But here, because I think they did have years of being on a show, they really have a camaraderie.
(A scene showing Alex looking at the map with the wizard, Archie, while her brother Max lies on the floor, is shown)
Alex: All right, people! Let's move. This way. (walks to the right direction)
Archie (Steve Valentine): The other way.
Alex: (immediately walks to the left) The other this way.
Doug (vo): They have the one-liners, they have the zingers, but they never seem too mean. They seem like the kind a normal family would make. Take, for example, this scene where the father asks for the wand back.
Jerry (David DeLuise): Just give me the wand. (Justin, the older brother, waves the wand) Come on.
Justin (David Henrie): (mocks Jerry) "Come on!"
Jerry: Give me the wand.
Justin: "Give me the wand." (He gives in and gives Jerry the wand)
Doug (vo): Now, written down, him mimicking him wouldn't be that funny. But because the performances seem very real, it works. That really is the saving grace of this movie. I legitimately like watching these people. Nobody seemed out of place. No one was giving an awkward acting job. They all seem legitimately believable. Even something as silly as this magician talking to this parrot, it's so dumb, but by God, every minute he's onscreen, I believe that parrot is his girlfriend. He sells it as well as Jimmy Stewart does, making you believe there's a rabbit in the room. (The poster for Harvey is shown)
Archie: (to his parrot) Yeah, yeah, I...I know. I know you were sentenced to 50 years in feathers. (The parrot squawks) But if we take the stone first, they'll disappear forever. (The parrot squawks) You're kind of good at this, aren't you? (The parrot squawks) I hate it when you find a tool.
Doug (vo): They not only work in context of the comedy, but they work in connection to the other characters. I totally buy every single one of their relationships, and they would act how they're acting towards one another.
(Scenes focusing on the film's climax are shown)
Doug (vo): The only part where I get a little lost, and again, maybe this comes back to having to know the show, is that there's this competition at the end that they have to go through in order to become real wizards, but it kind of springs out of nowhere, in that, they talk about it a little bit, but you don't think it's gonna be the climax. They both have to try in order to become real wizards so that they can get the spells to put everything right, and, yeah, it's pretty, it's neat, it's creative, but I just don't think it was fully explained or worked into the story that great, especially when you find out what saves the day. It almost kind of seems pointless.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): But still, most of the funny moments work, it looks nice, it's creative, and even some of the dramatic moments hit bulls-eyes. And again, that comes from the surprising believeability of these performances. Does every joke work? No. Does every line work? No. Are there awkward moments? What Disney Channel movie doesn't have that? But still, at the end of the day, I like watching this family. They're snarky, but you can tell they love each other, and it doesn't feel manipulative. It's the same way Malcolm in the Middle acts so mean to each other, but at the end of the day, you know they're a unique unit, and they still function as a caring family. That's more than enough for me to say, this ain't half-bad.
(The final scene, showing the family walking to a pier to go back home, while the parrot flies to the camera, is shown)