I Love Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie

After a concrete blow, High School Musical, out cold, thuds to the ground. Girl vs. Monster tags in but wakes up two seconds later, diving head-first into a sea of people. Compared to other Disney Channel films, Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie has them in a chokehold.

Before Harry Potter, nothing satisfied my hunger for magic until Wizards of Waverly Place. The Russos, a dysfunctional family of wizards, live spellbindingly-hectic lives. I can’t tell you precisely what episodes were like (years have chipped my memory), but I remember 1. the theme song and 2. Harper’s quirky skirts. Whenever the show needed juice, vampires, werewolves, and Bridgit Mendler randomly showed up to shock the series back to life.

I grew up with headstrong Alex Russo. Whenever I played “pretend,” I chose Alex instead of the “boy characters.” She used her boot as a wand holder. Likewise, my tennis shoes became stick holders. Alex was my homie.

After watching the movie for the first time, I was ecstatic! The action blew my mind, and the Russo family’s wizard-y shenanigans grabbed my attention by the throat.

From what I can remember, the Russos are on a family vacation (somewhere). But Alex is not having it. Instead of partying it up with her best friend, Alex’s family drags her along. She grows flustered beyond belief. After a burning argument with her mom, she wishes her parents had never met. Little did she know the Forbidden Book of Spells and the elder wand have ears (no, but they granted her wish). 

Watching Alex play matchmaker with her parents pained my heart. When Jerry flirted with the bartender, my heart cracked. When Theresa found no attraction to Jerry, my anxiety grew. They still loved each other. They were acting, right?

Desperate to reverse the spell, Alex, her brother, Justin, and a street magician enter a rainforest. They are pursuing the Stone of Dreams, which grants any wish. 

In one scene, a chasm halts their journey. Alex and Justin work together to levitate boulders inch by inch to cross the gap. These nerve-racking few minutes jolted my adrenaline. They bicker, almost resulting in their doom. They cross safely but leave behind the street magician.

Alex and Justin, with help from a village girl, locate the stone deep within a cave. Seconds before Justin can grab the rock, the street magician’s parrot snatches it and flies off.

The following events are fuzzy to me, but somehow, the two end up in a wizard’s duel, chasing down a glowing ball of magic? Whoever obtains it is declared a full wizard.

Alex, resourceful as ever, uses the same spell over and over again. She conjures mud puddles in Justin’s path, causing him to fall. Towards the end, Alex, stuck in a human-sized flower, is inches away from the orb. As Justin, running at top speed, approaches, she stretches out her arm for the orb. The outcome is hair-raisingly close, but Alex becomes the full wizard. 

Yet nothing changes. Alex’s family is still disappearing, and her parents are separated. After losing all memory of Alex, Justin vanishes into the tornado that consumed their brother, Max. All is lost.

Then out of nowhere, Theresa magics herself into the arena, gives Alex Russo the Stone of Dreams, and she uses it to wish everything back to normal. I love it.

I prefer to look back on the film fondly. After reminding myself of the story, I wish I hadn’t.