Saturday, May 13, 2017

16 Wishes DCOM Reviewed

22 today, happy birthday sweetheart!

What is it? Well, that's actually an interesting question.... It's classically thought of as a DCOM...even though strictly technically speaking it isn't (yes, that's right, it means Disney Channel's official Facebook page is wrong on this!) It's really a direct-to-DVD movie that Disney Channel just happened to pick up on very, very early during the production stage (before they even decided on a lead, hence how Debby became involved) due to Disney Channel's previous relationship (and ongoing relationship, for that matter) with Mar Vista studios through a number of actual DCOMs before and since. See folks, only on this blog will you learn new facts and grow your brain right in the introductory minutiae of each and every blog post!
Where did it air? Well, again, continuing the above it's actually a bit complex. Technically it did indeed premiere on Disney Channel first, but it was originally intended for DVD sales/streaming to be the primary means of distribution. Of course now it's as closely associated with the network as any other DCOM and other than directly streaming it or getting the DVD it's the only place on "traditional" television you'll find it.
Who stars in it? Most prominently, Debby Ryan, who became attached to the project as soon as Disney Channel decided to throw money at it. Jean-Luc Bilodeau plays second-billing Jay - you may recognize Jean-Luc (no, not that Jean-Luc) from not only the later Mar Vista-produced DCOM Zapped! but also from the somewhat short-lived Canadian/UPN (remember that network? Probably not) production Kyle-XY as the title character. Anna Mae Routledge is Celeste "the birthday fairy" and...yeah, this is actually the biggest role she's been in (she's been in another movie we've done a mini-review on...Eurotrip, maybe?) The only other notable role is Karissa Tynes as Krista. Abby's mom is played by the same actress who played an FBI agent in...Snakes on a Plane. Yeah, really. The principal is also "Chevron Guy" from Stargate: SG-1. There's also this really gorgeous ginger with these Marianas Trench-deep blue eyes but...uhh, we'll get to that at the end I guess.
Why are we reviewing this?

...well, see, there are three or so key events that lead to the creation of this very blog, and 16 Wishes is one of them.

One of those events would be of course the creation of which directly inspired the creation of this blog. But of course there'd be no point or even capability to make this blog without material to fill it up with. That's where 16 Wishes and other things come in.

Another of those events, by far the most important one, is Phineas and Ferb - or more specifically, when I just happened to chance upon Phineas and Ferb (The Chronicles of Meep specifically - I need to, like, send flowers to Povenmire and Marsh for that one, it was a real chance of fate that happened to be the first episode I saw as it was superbly excellent if not outright sublime) one night when I was desperately searching for new programming to watch. And as I describe in both my Jessie and Liv and Maddie retrospectives, this was actually critical timing because at the time I was just a few weeks off from having my ex-fiancee break up with me and less than a week from recovering from cancer-removing surgery. And not only was Phineas and Ferb the perfect TV visual comfort food at the time, but it was an immediate gateway to more visual comfort food on the network and by extension Nickelodeon (the first episode of anything I've ever watched on Disney Channel aside from The Chronicles of Meep - immediately after the Chronicles of Meep, in fact - was the second replay of the then-premiere episode of Good Luck Charlie's T-Wrecks and given the emotional state I was in, I was actually really blown away by just how well done an all-inclusive family multi-cam sitcom it was - and that was immediately followed up by the second replay of the premiere of Jessie's Gotcha Day which, well, if you want to delude yourself that Jessie is a better show than it is there are few better episodes than that to dive into).

Now, here's the thing - even at that point after about a month of watching I was still on the fence about the actual quality of Disney Channel shows and Jessie especially. By that I don't mean I would've given up watching the network forever and never ever speak of the great embarrassment of being an allegedly grown-ass adult watching Disney Channel, but my viewing habits probably would be a lot like they are today - oh hey, Good Luck Charlie's on, yeah I like that show. Oh hey it's Phineas and Ferb. Oh, hey Jessie's on...I wonder what Rick on Pawn Stars is trying to rip off today. But what ended up being the real tipping point to being dedicated as an allegedly grown-ass adult to this network and becoming a Jessie super-fan (or at least the closest thing that passes for it) is this movie. 

I think what really resonated with this movie, again given my emotional state, is the back half where Abby finds herself turned into an allegedly grown-ass adult. Even when you're in your early 20s (as Abby finds herself), well...I'm just going to quote the speech Abby's dad gives:

But being grown up is different than dreaming about it, isn't it? We understand. Of course! You're scared that your childhood is over and with it all the best times of your life! You probably wanna turn back that clock and start over? Boy I know how that feels!

...and being in my 20s...and already having been engaged in marriage, and then seeing all that blow up in my face, and then finding out I have cancer, and then dropping out of school over it...yeah, that shit gets overwhelming. You spend a lot of time thinking about how not long ago all you needed to do was wake up and go to school and everything else is provided for you, and you all of a sudden find yourself in that same situation, just minus the school, and at least just old enough so that it all feels familiar but at the same time a bit weird. 

Nostalgia is not perfect, and it can even be a dangerous thing - I've dedicated very large portions of this very blog about how nostalgia effectively stunted if not outright ruined Girl Meets World from its very conception. But we keep coming back to it because it's comfortable. Girl Meets World was greenlit and conceived, arguably, because it was a return to a very comfortable concept, a concept that was successful in its heyday and it was thought would be successful because that previous success had grown itself into its fanbase to provide comfort (again, Christian and Sean have talked about the comfort aspect of the original show). And when you're in a position where comfort starts being medicine, nostalgia is a very powerful thing to go back to.

My point being, girls who were 16 but accidentally wish themselves to be 22 as they walk out of a store dressing room and wishing they can just go back to school and live with their parents again and guys who actually are 22 (well, older than that even) but got kicked out of their fiancee's life so hard they apparently literally got cancer over it and had to move back in with their parents have a lot in common with each other.

Of course, that's just my perspective. But also keep in mind that apparently this little movie gave Debby enough clout, at least on the network, to where Disney Channel ultimately decided to greenlight her own show which of course became the 101-episode (not 98!) long series Jessie. No, really, it got one of the highest adult demos of its night.

It's really my theory that this message about childhood nostalgia, whether intended or not, proved to be a big hit with Millennials. I mean, think about it. We're supposedly the "never grow up" generation - we have high unemployment, low independent housing, yadda yadda. Abby's words about feeling like we're 16 and then suddenly 22 and needing a job and a means to afford our own place and take care of ourselves have become themes of a generation. And I'm not saying this as an insult to Millennials (being one myself of course) but that no doubt it happened to previous generations too - Gen X'ers, Baby Boomers, what have you as they suddenly find themselves transitioning from a school-focused work ethic to suddenly being in the actual work force. It's an increasingly universal theme as the world marches towards mechanization and now digitization, but it's a theme that's been rather under-represented in all but tween through young adult media.

But enough of me waxing nostalgic and complaining about my personal life again, how does it rate as a movie? Well, Abby's a brat through the first part (then again that's the point) and then we kinda see her cartoon-mature and she grows up, yadda yadda. Debby's not bad at all in it, Jean-Luc captains his way through it equally respectably, Karissa is very much underappreciated, Chevron Guy makes for the second ultra-nerdy sci-fi reference in this very sentence and again if you've seen the movie you probably know who I'm talking about when I talk about this curly-hair ginger girl with these sapphire-forged eyes who's, like, so gorgeous I'd go through another round of chemo for, like I will forget about my lousy ex for her, yadda yadda. Even when trying to emotionally divorce oneself it's a pretty competent movie, and Lord knows there've been quite a few official DCOMs that don't measure up to this one (the vastly overrated Cowbelles, Teen Beach 2, yes Invisible Sister)

Movie Grade: B-. Like I said, it's at least competent and enjoyable enough it deserves this.
Movie MVP: That ridiculously gorgeous blue-eyed ginger, of course, for completely memorizing me in the two or three scenes she's in including the one scene where she gasps, which is the closest speaking role she has. 

...just kidding, although I really do think she deserves more recognition (seriously, I don't think gingers get enough recognition for how beautiful they are, as I've again shared on this very blog before). But really, it's obviously going to be Debby, duh. This is the performance that convinced the network to give her Jessie, after all.

Extra Thoughts:

 - Of course after mentioning that last part I guess I'm obligated to again remind you that my ex-fiancee herself is a ginger so I'm biased (and again, Debby became a fake ginger for the Jessie role so, there).

 - Speaking of Cowbelles, both that and 16 Wishes feature the song Don't Wanna Grow Up by the band Willknots

  - Uuugggh Disney Channel commercials from April leading up to the RDMAs are soooo laaaaaame. But I probably only think this because the RDMAs themselves are after-the-fact old news now.

 - here's a bit of trivia for you: after wishing to become popular, Abby claims that the dads of some girls are planning her birthday party in Las Vegas as they happen to own half of that town. This implies that they're direct descendants of Howard Hughes who quite literally owned half of Vegas (though it's honestly doubtful the writers really knew this at the time).

 - Abby's driver's license information is the following: ID #073 477 657; Class D (do note that most 16 year olds start off with a Class C license which legally permits them to drive most normal passenger cars - being too lazy to Google it, I don't even know if "Class D" is a thing); no endorsements (minor fun fact: yours truly, the author of this blog, has one endorsement: M, giving legal permission to operate motorcycles); no restrictions; Code 776-36A (whatever that means) and lists her DOB as 7/7/95 (which implies that the movie takes place very specifically on July 7, 2011 - almost exactly 11 months into the future of its original Disney Channel premiere date - and is also contradicted by the fact that in parts of the movie everyone's breath is obviously visible and many trees remain bare as they probably shot it in late February or early March of 2010) and her height as being 5'6" (which is Debby's actual height) and just as Celeste the Birthday Fairy says, the license doesn't expire

 - The design of the "Coastal State" license plate on Abby's car also implies this takes place in Oregon even though her license actually refers to "Coastal State" as the actual name of the state.

 - Abby's school, Walnut Grove, is a real school in the Vancouver area where the movie was shot. It's a private school and you can see on their website they're very proud of being the filming location for 16 Wishes. Their mascot actually is the Gators, BTW (as displayed on the school bus and Abby's lifetime lunch pass, which is modeled after the actual Walnut Grove lunch pass. Yes, I go deep into this for you - only on this blog!)

 - Yeah, I am waaaay behind on Andi Mack. I was hoping to binge on the backlog of episodes up to the latest today for my birthday but...yeah, forget that. We'll be resuming Andi Mack reviews tomorrow. Hopefully.

 - And obviously this is Part 2 of our Birthday Blog posts today, so, Happy Birthday Debby! (And Happy Birthday Me!)

1 comment:

  1. I reviewed this was one my earlier scene by scene film reviews on my blog. I did okay but it was rushed and didn't go into much detail so i remade the review and i rather like it. This one is close to me given it's emotional stuff and how it made me rethink my thoughts on DCOM's (I saw this back in 2010 when it aired and i was in that "I hate Disney Channel because it's cool to do so" phase).

    Even objectively, it's up there and is honestly my favorite Modern DCOM, even with it's wonky moments here and there. I'd link my re-review but you can look it up, I'm lazy.


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