A Simple Wish

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A Simple Wish
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Produced by Michael S. Glick
Jeff Rothberg
Written by Jeff Rothberg
Starring Martin Short
Mara Wilson
Robert Pastorelli
Amanda Plummer
Francis Capra
Ruby Dee
Teri Garr
Kathleen Turner
Music by Bruce Broughton
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Edited by William S. Scharf
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 11, 1997 (1997-07-11)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million
Box office $8.3 million[1]

A Simple Wish is a 1997 fantasy-comedy film directed by Michael Ritchie in his final film,[2] and starring Martin Short, Mara Wilson and Kathleen Turner. The film is about a bumbling male fairy godmother named Murray (Short), who tries to help eight-year-old Annabel (Wilson) fulfill her wish that her father, a carriage driver, wins the leading role in a Broadway musical.


An insignificant park carriage driver and aspiring actor named Oliver Greening is rejected from a role in a musical version of A Tale of Two Cities. His children, Anabel and Charlie, debate the existence of fairies. Murray, a clumsy fairy godmother, appears and promises to return to grant Anabel's wish that her father get the acting role later.

That night, Hortence, the head of all fairy godmothers, is holding the annual meeting of the North American Fairy Godmothers Association (NAFGA). Claudia, a former fairy godmother who is now an evil witch, steals all the fairies' wands except Murray's.

The next day, Anabel realizes that Murray has left his magic wand behind and decides to return it to him. While fighting with Charlie, the wand breaks. Anabel tries to fix it with popsicle sticks and glue, but it is still in bad shape. Murray shows up to get his wand and due to his broken wand and Anabel's lack of concentration, they end up in Nebraska. When they arrive back in New York, they see Oliver, and accidentally turn him into a Central Park Statue. Anabel begs Murray to fix it, but Murray continues to have mishaps. They go to ask for the help of Hortence and she tells them the spell on Oliver must be lifted before midnight, or he will be a statue forever.

Anabel and Murray head to the theater and see Tony Sable, the selfish and conceited actor who is auditioning for Oliver's part. Murray tries to ruin Tony's audition but Sable gets the part since Oliver, still a statue, has not shown up. Boots, Claudia's henchman, who has been looking for Murray kidnaps them and takes them to Claudia.

Claudia wins the ensuing fight over the wand, but Boots steals it back and gives it to Murray. In anger, Claudia turns Boots back into a dog and attempts to cast a spell on Murray which rebounds on a mirror, drawing her into it and then shattering into tiny pieces.

Murray, Charlie, and Anabel return to Central Park and restore Oliver just in time. Murray causes Sable to slip on a bucket, and twist his ankle and Oliver takes his place in the lead role. The play is a success, as Oliver moves the entire audience to tears with his stirring performance, and Murray walks home with Boots (who is now his dog).



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.[3] 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?"[4] ReelViews and the Austin Chronicle both reviewed the film,[5] 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."[6]

The Rotten Tomatoes approval rating is currently 27% based on 15 reviews.


  1. ^ A Simple Wish at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 247-248
  3. ^ A Simple Wish PixelatedGeek
  5. ^ Review: A Simple Wish ReelViews
  6. ^ A Simple Wish Austin Chronicle

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