Who doesn’t love witty Coming-of-Age stories? Especially the uplifting kind that one watches with a smile on the face from start to finish. It’s no secret – I love them!
Based on a best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a delightful comedy flick with with a cast led by its adorable young protagonist: 10-year-old Felix Funicello (Wyatt Ralff). A fifth grader at the St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School, Felix is doing his best to navigate the perils of a Catholic education and an adolescent social life involving girls (“in fifth grade, if a girl really liked a guy she will make his life a living hell”), kisses (even the kind that “make Jesus very, very, very sad”), friends and public appearances and beautiful role models to look up to.
Whether you attended a Catholic school or not (“It’s always the same — Jesus Good, Satan Bad”), the hilarious and provoking story of young Felix would pull your heart strings and take you on a wonderful trip back to your childhood (unless you are still a child, in which case associating with the hero of the story would be even easier).
The flavor of a novelistic, first-person point of view is provided by a voice-over narration that offers wit, ironies and insights of the inner world of the young Felix. The narrator (Chevy Chase) is actually the older Felix, who does a great job juxtaposing the life knowledge of adulthood with the innocent universe inhabited by his younger self. Adapting a novel to the screen could be a challenging task, yet screenwriter John Doolan and director Colin Theys did a marvelous job of bringing the story to life.
The film has hardly any flaws – from the great production design that combines retro costumes and settings, with top-notch cultural references (the action is set in the 60s), through the charismatic bundle of actors (young and old) portraying even some of the stereotypical characters in a unique, delightful and authentic way.
Wishin’ and Hopin’ s story is filled with sudden reversals or backfiring of events and original jokes (topping even those from Diary of a Wimpy Kid) that are guaranteed to keep you entertained for the duration of the film. (I can`t wipe the smile off my face even as I write this review). It is advertised as a Christmas film, but it can really be enjoyed at any time of the year. Such uplifting stories are always welcome to brighten up our everyday lives.