You won't need three guesses to know where Three Wishes is headed once a mid-1950s single mom, Jeanne Holman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), sideswipes a drifter (Patrick Swayze) with her sedan. She invites him home to mend, and with that scruffy beard, anachronistically buff body, and loner-stud air of mystery, Swayze's Jack McCloud is unmistakably destined to change forever the conformist, suburban-tract town he's landed in. It's a foregone conclusion, too, the minute director Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose, Lost in Yonkers) starts laying on the close-ups of grotesquely judgmental neighbors, that these harpies won't be able to talk Jeanne out of her utterly '90s ideas about how to raise two boys on her own paycheck or out of hitting the sack with Jack.
What tension there is in this period piece arrives with a jolt when Jeanne's 5-year-old suddenly develops cancer. Beware ads heralding Wishes as ''family entertainment'': The lad endures a hospital visit and some mighty disturbing fever dreams of a creepy totem come to life before Swayze sails in with a bizarre, Spielbergian F/X flourish to soothe the whole Holman clan. Swayze oglers should wait for Wishes on video; the overblown magic-realist trappings may not look so thin on smaller screens. C