A Simple Wish
A Simple Wish (also known as The Fairy Godmother) is a 1997 children's-fantasy-comedy film directed by Michael Ritchie, and starring Martin Short, Mara Wilson, and Kathleen Turner. The film about a bumbling male fairy godmother named Murray (Short), who tries to help Annabel (Wilson) fulfill her wish that her father, a carriage driver, wins the leading role in a Broadway musical.
|A Simple Wish|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Ritchie|
|Produced by||Sid Sheinberg|
|Written by||Jeff Rothberg|
|Music by||Bruce Broughton|
|Cinematography||Ralf D. Bode|
|Edited by||William S. Scharf|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
It was the last film from director Michael Ritchie before his death in 2001.
Oliver Greening is rejected from a coveted performance in a musical version of A Tale of Two Cities for simply not being a bankable performer. After Oliver's daughter Annabel (Mara Wilson) attempts to get her brother Charlie (Francis Capra) to believe that the tooth fairy exists, Murray (Martin Short), a clumsy fairy godfather, appears after Charlie has gone to sleep. Annabel wants to wish for her father to get the role, but Murray suddenly remembers he is late for an important engagement and promises to return to grant her wish later.
Hortence (Ruby Dee), the head of all fairy godmothers, is holding the annual meeting of the North American Fairy Godmothers Association (NAFGA). Due to Hortence's rule, all the fairy godmothers must check in their wands before the meeting. Claudia (Kathleen Turner), a former fairy godmother turned evil witch, has shown up at the meeting uninvited and intends to steal all the wands. She gives Hortence's receptionist, Rena (Teri Garr) a witch's apple that puts her to sleep, casts a spell on Hortence turning the head fairy paper-thin and binding her mouth with bricks, and locks all the fairy godmothers downstairs on her way to stealing the wands. Murray, however, arrives at the meeting late and never checks his wand, leaving it as the only wand Claudia doesn't have.
Annabel realizes that Murray has left his magic wand behind and decides to return it to him, but Charlie breaks it. Murray and Annabel disappear to Nebraska, by way of a misconstrued spell cast by him to get out quickly. After he tries and fails to turn a selfish motel owner they meet there into a rabbit (turning him instead into a giant rabbi), the two end up back in Central Park. Because of Annabel's disappearing in an unexplained way, the school closes early. Charlie finds them.
Annabel begs Murray to try to grant her wish now that they are close to her father, but due to yet another mishap by him, Oliver is turned into a statue. To fix the problem, the three of them go to NAFGA and ask for the help of Hortence, who is still under the effects of Claudia's spell. While Murray, Charlie and Rena (who has awoken from Claudia's sleeping spell) fix Murray's wand, Hortence tells Annabel of Claudia's plot and explains that the awry spell must be lifted before midnight, or Oliver will be doomed to remain a statue forever. Claudia, meanwhile, has been looking through the wands, searching for hers. After going through, she realizes it is missing and now belongs to Murray, and she is determined to obtain it.
Annabel and Murray head to the theater and see Tony Sable, the selfish and conceited actor who is auditioning for Oliver's part. Knowing this could ruin her father's chance of being in the show, she asks Murray to sabotage the audition any way he can. First he tries to make it rain on the stage but it is dismissed as a simple technical problem and the audition continues. Then she asks him to give Sable a frog in his throat to impair his singing. He takes this wish too literally, and frogs start hopping out of Sable's mouth, shocking the cast and crew. Annabel and Murray celebrate, but Sable gets the part since Oliver has not shown up. Boots (Amanda Plummer), Claudia's terrier turned lackey who has been looking for Murray, finds them. Murray mentions the story of Brer Rabbit to Annabel and together they beg her not to take them to Claudia's lair so that she will.
Claudia catches them, and demands them to tell her where her wand is. When Murray tries to persuade Annabel not to tell her, as punishment, Claudia changes her and Murray into ballerinas and makes them dance uncontrollably until Annabel agrees to tell her. However, Annabel is able to keep Claudia distracted until Charlie can return with the wand, Murray winning Boots' allegiance long enough to convince her to give him the wand. Claudia attempts to attack him, but Murray is able to trick her into firing a spell that draws her into a mirror, which is subsequently shattered.
Murray, Charlie, and Annabel return to Central Park and restore Oliver just in time. He is given the part of Sable's understudy thanks to a producer who enjoyed his audition. In order to finally grant Annabel's wish, Murray appears backstage and causes Sable to slip on a bucket, and twist his ankle. The resultant temper tantrum gets him fired and Oliver, his understudy, is cast in his place. Charlie and Annabel watch the show with Murray and the other fairy godmothers including Hortence, who is now free from Claudia's spell.
- Martin Short as Murray
- Mara Wilson as Annabel Greening
- Robert Pastorelli as Oliver Greening
- Francis Capra as Charlie Greening
- Kathleen Turner as Claudia
- Amanda Plummer as Boots
- Ruby Dee as Hortence: The Head Of The Fairy Godmothers
- Teri Garr as Rena
- Jonathan Hadary as Lord Richard
- Deborah Odell as Jeri
- Alan Campbell as Tony Sable
- Jack McGee as Officer York
Reception to the movie was negative, with Pixelated Geek's Cinerina stating that while the movie's jokes might not appeal to adults, the movie would have appeal for a younger audience. Roger Ebert gave the film one and half stars, saying "When family audiences avoid inspired films like The Secret Garden, The Little Princess and Shiloh, why would they choose a pallid exercise like this?" ReelViews and the Austin Chronicle both reviewed the film, with the Chronicle stating that "The concept's good... But this family film about an incompetent fairy godmother named Murray (Short), is shy several handfuls of fairy dust."
The Rotten Tomatoes approval rating is currently 25% based on 16 reviews.