Written by Pirata Hermosa
The first feature-length made-for-TV movie based on the popular Disney channel show has been released for the first time on DVD.
When the Russo family goes on vacation, it is never a dull moment. While most kids can go to the Caribbean with their parents and have a fairly normal family vacation, it’s not so easy when the kids are three wannabe wizards. Knowing their children’s tendencies to cause mischief and mayhem, their parents, Jerry (David DeLuise) and Theresa (Maria Canals-Barrera), forbid them to bring along their wands or to use any magic while on the trip.
That plan lasts almost as long as a short commercial break. Daughter Alex (Selena Gomez) has discovered the family’s spell book and brought it along, but she’s not the only one to blame. Justin (David Henrie) packed his wand and Max (Jake T. Austin) immediately starts using spells on a local street magician to spice up his act.
But this street magician is more than he appears to be. Sensing the Russos are doing real magic, Archie (Steve Valentine) asks for them to help his parrot return to her human self, as she has been turned into a bird. He says that he has a map to the Stone of Dreams, an extremely powerful item that is rumored to grant wishes.
After initially dismissing his request and acting like they don’t know what he is talking about, the kids return to ask him for help in saving their parents. During a normal teen moment while Alex is arguing with her mom, she mistakenly wishes that her parents had never met. A common wish that many teenagers have had throughout history, but not while they are holding the powerful family spell book and Justin’s borrowed wand. When Alex realizes that her parents have no memory of anything that has happened after their initial meeting, she rushes to her siblings for help.
Alex and Justin enlist help from Archie, while Max stays behind to not only watch his parents, but also to find some way to help them fall in love again. You’d think Max would have the easier job, but keeping his parents out of trouble while both are on the prowl and his father can use magic again is far from being an easy task. The other two teenagers head off on a magical journey through the jungle to face a myriad of obstacles in the search for the stone.
Eventually all of this climaxes into a final battle reminiscent of a Harry Potter film. Alex and Justin must fight one another in order to pass the final wizard task where one will become a full wizard and the other loses their abilities forever.
At first it’s a little strange seeing the show in a feature-length format. The sets look a little different and there is no laugh track. After you settle into the first 10 minutes of the show and the family arrives at their vacation spot, it really begins to take off and becomes an independent film of its own. It has nice pacing and a good storyline that keeps your attention. You don’t even need to be a fan of the show to understand what is going on.
For fans of the show, I think they will be surprised at the changes. The special effects are far superior to what they do on the television show and there is a lot more character development. Alex finally shows a little emotion and becomes less of a brat and more of a responsible young woman. You can feel an actual relationship between Justin and Alex develop as the two join forces and find themselves struggling to save the family. Under normal circumstances they are rivals, but in the film you see that they do care for one another like most siblings do. Max isn’t just the stupid younger brother. He’s certainly not a genius, but he actually uses his brain a few times and is less of a one-dimensional character. Theresa actually shows some parenting skills and isn’t just part of the background like she normally is. And finally, Jerry isn’t just a foil for his kids to play off of, and shows how he wasn’t such a responsible person when he was a teenager either.
The DVD contains one making-of featurette where you go behind the scenes with the cast to see how the film was created, a digital copy, and a Wishing Stone key chain that changes color when you touch it.