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I Wish Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    A delightful and uplifting study of kids and families by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    This wise and funny film, in Japanese with English subtitles, works small miracles in depicting the pivotal moment when kids turn from the wishfulness of childhood into shaping the world for themselves.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The brothers Maeda are pure gold; the film captures what feels like effortless joy in their lives, and it is never something they seem to be reaching for.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Unique, leisurely subtitled film about parental separation.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that I Wish is a 2011 Japanese film about an imaginative young boy who sees the creation of a new bullet train as a chance for himself, his brother, and his friends to make wishes, including a wish that his separated parents get back together. Although it's a beautifully filmed movie with heartfelt characters with whom parents and kids can identify, the film's pacing -- it's over two hours -- and the English subtitles taken from the spoken Japanese might make this one difficult for younger viewers and viewers looking for something more immediate and faster paced. The theme of parents and their two children going through a separation and likely divorce -- although shown in a realistic manner -- also might be difficult for some children. Still, although the sensibility and style of this movie are definitely rooted in Japanese culture, the behavior of the kids is so universal, and the quality of the movie is so undeniable, that patient viewers will be rewarded with a worthwhile, unforgettable story.

  • Families can talk about the movie's Japanese roots. In what ways was the film universal, and in what ways was it uniquely Japanese? How would this movie be different if it were remade in an American (or any other country's) setting?
  • What are your thoughts on subtitles in movies? Do they add to or take away from the viewing experience? Why?
  • How is the issue of divorce and separation treated in this movie? Do you think it is a realistic depiction?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Through action and discussion, the importance of believing in your dreams is shown.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Koichi is a sweet, playful, and imaginative boy who's trying to come to grips with his parents' separation and his father and younger brother living in another city.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not applicable

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not applicable

  • language false1

    Language: A young boy yells, "He really pisses me off!"

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: A Marlboro cigarette vending machine is prominently featured in one scene.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Older adult male characters are shown getting intoxicated in a kitchen as they yell and sing. The mother is shown drinking and calling her young son on the telephone; her son is living with his father in another town. The father smokes cigarettes. A grandmother makes reference to smoking marijuana.