Based on the New York Times best-selling novel by award winning author Wally Lamb. A vivid slice of 1960s life, Wishin' and Hopin' is a wise-and-witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been-and how far we've come. In the small town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, we go straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School with Felix Funicello, a Catholic school fifth-grader in 1964, whose claim to fame is his cousin Annette Funicello, the famous Mouseketeer and teen movie queen. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas!
This is the first adaptation of a Wally Lamb novel for the screen and was made with his full cooperation and close collaboration with the crew, through the entire production.
The epilogue is slightly different than it was in the novel. Wally Lamb contributed a lot of new ideas for the characters and includes nods to cast and crew in the altered stories. Felix becoming a professor at Wesleyan University is a reference to director Colin Theys and cinematographer Catherine Goldschmidt, who both attended Wesleyan.
Based on a novella by Wally Lamb, many of the movie's scenes are filmed at Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT, a high school at which Lamb used to teach.
Ranger Andy was a real program airing on WFSB in Hartford. WFSB allowed the film to use the show and actual clips from the real program appear inter-cut with footage shot for the film.
No Catholic church was available for filming, with St. Patrick's Cathedral falling through during the shoot, so Christ Episcopal Church was made to look like a Catholic church and the confessional scene filmed on the stage later used for the pageant. Christ Episcopal was very friendly to the production.
The location for the Funicello home was a house that Wally Lamb rented for years as his office. He wrote the novel in the room that appears as Ma and Pa's bedroom. The home contains numerous references to "Bunny", the owner and landlady, who passed away before filming began.
Not a lot of boys were available to shoot the Junior Midshipmen photo, so a group of girls from the hallway scenes tied their hair back and pretended to be boys for the photo.
Special makeup was applied to Meat Loaf's teeth to make him look like a chain smoker.
Molly Ringwald speaks fluent Parisian French and learned her French Canadian accent for the film. Siobhan Cohen also learned her Russian and her Russian accent for the film.
Wally Lamb makes a cameo as the janitor on the ladder in the opening scene. He is not very handy and picked this cameo as a joke.
This movie is based on the New York Times best-selling novel by award winning author Wally Lamb.
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