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|Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie|
|Directed by||Lev L. Spiro|
Todd J. Greenwald
Jake T. Austin
|Country of origin||USA|
|Release date||August 28, 2009|
|Running time||98 minutes|
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie is a 2009 American made-for-television comedy-drama fantasy film based on the Disney Channel Original Series Wizards of Waverly Place. It was directed by Lev L. Spiro and filmed primarily in San Juan, Puerto Rico in February and March 2009. The full cast of the series starred in the film, although Jennifer Stone only had a small role at the beginning of the film. The film focuses on the Russo family taking a vacation to the Caribbean. Selena Gomez starred in it as Alex Russo, the main protagonist.
The film premiered on August 28, 2009 on the Disney Channel in the United States. It received 11.4 million viewers at its premiere, making it the second-most-viewed Disney Channel Original Movie premiere at that time, after High School Musical 2. It was also cable's No. 1 scripted telecast of 2009 in total viewers. It premiered in the UK and Ireland on October 23, 2009 as part of Wiz-Tober 2009. It was released on DVD on December 15, 2009 as an Extended Edition. The film won the 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Children Program. The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 62% of RT Community gave the film positive reviews, based on 2693 reviews, with an average score of 7.2/10.
The entire Russo family—Alex (Selena Gomez), Justin (David Henrie), Max (Jake T. Austin), and their parents Jerry (David DeLuise) and Theresa (Maria Canals Barrera)—are preparing for a vacation to the Caribbean. An unenthusiastic Alex reluctantly agrees to tag along after a death-threatening situation in which Harper (Jennifer Stone) and Alex were almost hit by a coming subway. Justin saves the two for a chance to be praised at using magic to save Alex once again after Alex does something wrong. Once in the Caribbean, the family meets a boy working at the hotel that Alex instantly develops a crush on. The family then visits a street fair, where they meet a street magician and former wizard (Steve Valentine) (who lost the full-wizard contest to his older brother) named Archie who wants to turn his girlfriend, Giselle, from a parrot back into a human by finding the Stone of Dreams, which has the power to grant any wish or reverse any spell. Jerry considers it crazy since many wizards have gone on the quest and never returned.
Later, after Alex was about to use a spell on her mother to convince her to let Alex hang out with the boy from the hotel, she gets caught, grounded and forbidden to use magic for two months. After a heated argument with Theresa, Alex, in a fit of rage, wishes that her parents had never met. The smuggled full-wizard wand and spell book, which Alex was holding at the time, grants her wish. As a result, Jerry and Theresa do not remember Justin, Alex, Max, and they don't know each other.
Alex, Max and Justin attempt to get a spell-book from Jerry by levitating it out of his pocket, but he catches it. Jerry is shown to still have his powers, since he never gave them up to marry Theresa. Jerry has a more carefree attitude with magic due to this change. Justin asks him "hypothetically" what would happen if a wizard wished that her parents never met. Jerry explains how they would gradually forget their past, and then disappear forever. He says it would take a miracle to fix it, whereupon Justin mentions the Stone of Dreams (La Piedra de los Sueños), which Jerry says would work too.
Justin and Alex set off to find the Stone of Dreams, guided by Archie. Along the way, Justin and Alex face many obstacles such as getting across a wide canyon, escaping death from quicksand, and getting across a narrow ledge. Meanwhile, Max stays at the resort to keep his parents from meeting other people. Over the course of the day, Max begins losing his memory. Realizing that something is wrong, Max asks Jerry to help him find Alex and Justin, and Jerry agrees after some persuasion. They are joined by Theresa, who believes them to simply be treasure hunting, but nonetheless proves useful, as she is the only one of them who can speak Spanish.
Eventually, Alex and Justin succeed in finding the Stone of Dreams, but Giselle steals the stone. The kids tell Theresa and Jerry their story. Theresa doesn't believe them because she thinks she would never forget her own children. While trying to figure out how to reverse the spell without the stone of dreams, Jerry mentions that if one of the kids was a full wizard, they might be able to cast a spell to reverse it. While preparing to begin the full-wizard contest, Max finally loses all memory of who he is and gets sucked into the vortex of non-existence. Theresa remembers him slightly, and realizes that they were telling the truth. Realizing they must work quickly, Alex and Justin are transported to an ancient battlefield, where the contest will be held. Jerry explains that they will only be allowed to use spells involving the four elements (water, earth, fire and air). The winner will become a full wizard, and the loser gets nothing while losing their powers forever. Alex and Justin engage in what turns out to be an intense battle, and Alex narrowly wins.
In trying to come up with a spell to fix everything, she turns to Justin for help. However, Justin has lost all his memory (despite the fact that he is older than Alex). Alex tells him that even though they pick on each other, she looks up to him and begs Justin not leave her here alone. Justin tells her that he'd never leave her and that even though he doesn't know her, he believes her, and wants to help, but he cannot and is sucked into the same vortex that Max was.
Meanwhile Theresa is back at the resort and sees that Giselle has returned to human form with the Stone of Dreams hanging by her neck. She wanted to leave Archie now that she was in human form. Archie manages to get the stone from Giselle, turns her back into a parrot, and gives the stone to Theresa. Theresa then wishes to be where Alex, Justin and Jerry are, at which point she is transported to the same battlefield and gives Alex the stone. Jerry tells Alex she can wish for her brothers to reappear and still keep her full wizard powers. However, Alex wishes that everything go back to the way it was before, and time rewinds back to the beginning of the argument between Alex and Theresa that started all the trouble, which is quickly stopped when Alex apologizes and accepts her punishments with grace. While Theresa and Jerry remember nothing about the ordeal, Alex, Justin, and Max do. Their parents are astonished by the change in the kids' attitude.
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie was filmed primarily in San Juan, Puerto Rico between February and March 2009. Hotel scenes were shot at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan while the main cave scene, where Alex, Justin and Archie are climbing inside the cave, was shot inside Cueva Ventana in Arecibo as well as a land next to the mountain where the cave resides in which Alex asks for directions to the cave. The ancient battlefield where Alex and Justin compete to be the family wizard takes place at the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in the Old San Juan. The subway scene where we see the train from the platform was shot in Toronto, despite the series being based in New York.
The film received positive and mixed reviews. Heather Thompson of Disney Dreaming gave the film a positive review, saying that the movie was "extremely well made". Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media gave the film four out of five stars, saying that the movie was "quite entertaining." Little Angel magazine gave the film a positive review as well, but expressed dismay at the lack of Gomez's performances on the movie. Carey Bryson of About.com gave the film three and a half out of five stars, saying that the movie was "humurous" but had an "unconvincing" and "predictable" plot line. Luke Bonnano of DVD Dizzy gave a mixed review, saying that the movie was "generally appealing." James Plath of Movie Metropolis gave the film six out of ten stars, saying that the plot line of the movie should have been more "original."