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In Hollywood when a director, an actor or actress becomes popular or has a highly anticipated project coming out, the other studios search through their back catalog for products they can release to try and capitalize on the person's newfound fame. In this case actress Katherine Heigl has recently come into the Hollywood eye with her roles on TV's Roswell, the teen horror movie Valentine and a very sexy photo spread in Maxim magazine. On Roswell she plays Isabel Evans an Alien teenager who along with her brother Max (Jason Behr) and his friend Micheal (Brendan Fehr) search for information regarding their home planet. However before she was Isabel, Katherine got her start acting in motion pictures such as My Father The Hero (1994) and Under Seige 2 (1995). In 1996 she took the role of Alexia Wheaton, one of two sisters in the family comedy Wish Upon a Star.

Wish Upon a Star
The Movie
There are two daughters in the Wheaton household Alexia (Katherine Heigl) and Haley (Danielle Harris) each as different as night and day. Alexia is the popular type with no brains, a great sense of style and the jock boyfriend. Haley on the other hand is quiet, shy and excels at math and science. Haley and Alexia don't get along much at all with Alexia hating the fact that she has to drive Haley to school, thus being seen with her less than cool sister. Haley just wants a small portion of Alexia's popularity and one night wishes on a comet that she could become Alexia for one day.  The cosmic gods agree and when Haley and Alexia awaken they find themselves trapped in the other's body. This comes as a shock to Alexia who hates the switch and forbids her sister to go to school like this. Naturally Haley is happy as she gets to do all the things she's only dreamed of including dressing up, driving and dating her sisters popular jock boyfriend Kyle (Don Jeffcoat). After the first day ends they realize they may in fact be stuck like this for a while and learn to look at their lives in a different ways. As they both become accustomed to each other's life they begin to relate to one another and become closer as sisters.

Wish Upon A Star is a fun and cute movie. It's light entertainment that you don't really have to think too much about. One plus with the movie are the early performances from Danielle Haris who would go on to appear in Urban Legend (1998) and Katherine Heigl (Roswell, Valentine). Katherine who is fast becoming a favorite of mine gives an excellent performance here, which shows that even at a young age she was destined to become a star. Though Katherine's film roles have primarily been smaller parts, she will one day be carrying a feature length movie on her own. It's only a matter of time.  The majority of the cast is made up of no name actors who add what they can to the film but since they are not important to the overall story, none of them really need to stand out.

One of the things that I liked the most about the movie was the fact that although I'm not in the target demographic, the film wasn't toned down so that it made it hard for me to watch. The problem with so many movies aimed at kids and young teens these days is that the film is dumbed down so much that it becomes painful for anyone over the age of 15 to watch. This simply isn't the case here. While the story involves two female teenage characters, the themes it deals with are ageless. Often family members and siblings grow up with out really knowing much about one another. This is story that could have easily been told with two male characters in their 20s as it's not so much the events occurring around the characters but the emotions they go through.

Sure the plot isn't very deep and the ending is predictable but this is another movie the whole family can enjoy. Sex and violence are replaced with good values and a moral message. It has its flaws but in the end it's an enjoyable 90 minutes.

Wish Upon a Star
Video
Since the beginning of the format Columbia Tristar have put out some good transfers and some excellent transfers. Wish Upon a Star fits in the first category as it's generally a pretty good transfer and miles above the transfer I saw of this film on TV some months back. Wish is given a Full Frame transfer that is not enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Wish Upon a Star was originally a made for TV film and therefore this transfer is in fact in the Original Aspect Ratio (OAR). Overall the film does have the general direct to video look to it. Colors are generally muted but natural looking. Sharpness is pretty good with only the occasional shot looking a bit soft.

On to the problems, the print isn't entirely dust free and there is the odd scratch in the film and at times the film can be somewhat grainy. I believe this is related to the film's origin as a small budget TV movie from a smaller studio.

Columbia has put together a good transfer for a film that looked pretty darn bad the last time I saw it on TV. Having only seen this film on TV I was unsure of how it was supposed to look.  Although it can't compare to recent releases or even high profile restored older titles Wish looks as good as it going to get on this DVD edition.

Audio
Columbia TriStar presents Wish Upon a Star with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Going in I wasn't expecting an all out house shaking sound track as this is certainly not the sort of film to have that. The audio for Wish Upon a Star is not unlike the standard audio presentation for TV series like Dawson's Creek or Felicity. There was no need for a 5.1 remix as the 2.0 track presents the material as best as it can. The sound mix tends to stick to the front speakers with music sounding strong. Dialogue is another story with it being too low and hard to understand.  I had to turn up the volume of my center channel a number of times as the dialogue mix didn't seem right to me. At times the dialogue was too loud and others it was too soft. The biggest problem with the audio to me was that when the girls began to scream the sound became very hard to take almost to the point of distortion.  If there was rear speaker activity I likely missed it and I can't see any spot in the film were my subwoofer would have kicked in. For a movie with a fairly basic sound scope this isn't that great of a mix. I shouldn't have to constantly ride the volume button in order to hear the dialogue.

Although it does sound slightly better than when I watched it on TV due to the problems with the dialogue and the lack of a surround presence entirely. I'm forced to give the Wish Upon a Star audio track only an average grade.

Wish Upon a Star
Extras
Arguably this isn't the biggest title in Columbia TriStar history and as such doesn't warrant very much in the way of special features. I am however able to look past that thought just to have this cute movie on DVD.

Essentially the only extra on the disc is a feature length audio commentary with the writer Jessica Barondes and director Blair Treu. The commentary is of the screen specific variety with Jessica and Blair discussing what it was like making the movie and working with the various talent involved. An interesting track to listen to once but not one of the better commentary tracks I've had the pleasure of listening to.

Rounding on the extra features section we have a set of Bonus trailers for a collection of TriStar titles Spice World, Hook, Jumanji and The Baby Sitters Club.

Note: There is no trailer for Wish Upon a Star on the disc as likely one wasn't even made due to the films origin.  Also included are the usual Cast Filmographies.

Nothing special about these special features though props should be given to TriStar for the commentary track as if this was a Warner Brother title I doubt we'd even be given that.

Overall
Wish Upon a Star is a cute film featuring an early performance from Katherine Heigl, one of the prettiest girls working in TV and film today. Despite suffering from a slightly better than average video transfer, an average audio mix and only one major extra. Wish is still worth a look for it's quality message for youth. Wish Upon a Star has been OOP on VHS for a number of years and is a constant fixture on the Disney Channel. During this time it's amassed a small but devoted group of fans who will be more then happy to be able to own this film once again.


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