Review: Wonder Park

Wonder Park
4 10

PLOT: Wonder Park is a magical amusement park that comes to fruition in the young mind of a girl named June and her loving mother. When her mom gets sick, June must search for the love and imagination she once had to bring this crazy world back to life.

REVIEW: When it comes to animation, oftentimes a filmmaker is able to find a balance between connecting with the children as well as the parents. And then there are the features that feel like they are strictly for young viewers. Sometimes they tend to go overboard with the cute and cuddly. Or perhaps they just attempt to find a bit of meaning in the child friendly plot. WONDER PARK is a bit of both. While it starts off with an interesting - and quite heartbreaking - storyline, it quickly becomes a tired and predictable fable about giving in to your own imagination. As clever as it could have been, this is the kind of film that will connect strictly with the youngest viewers just looking for a few adorable cartoon animals to entertain in.

WONDER PARK is the story of a young girl named June (Brianna Denski) who, along with her doting mother (Jennifer Garner), love to create a wild and wonderful, fantasy amusement park. This pretend paradise is run by several adorable animals including Boomer (Ken Hudson Campbell), Gus (Kenan Thompson), Greta (Mila Kunis), Steve (John Oliver), Cooper (Ken Jeong) and Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz). However, when June’s mother goes away due to an illness, the young girl’s fears replace her sense of wonder and excitement for their creation. However, all that changes when she unwittingly discovers that Wonder Park exists, yet it has been taken over by a cloud of darkness and an army of cute little “Chimpanzombies” who tear down everything they build. Will June find her imagination and wonder again? Or will this incredible park finally be locked away never to be found again?

Wonder Park, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Jennifer Garner, Kenan Thompson, Ken Joeng, Nickelodeon, animationThe opening of this new animated feature from Nickelodeon starts off rather well. This is when we get our first glimpse at the magic of this impossible attraction. It is so impressive that the park literally defies logic and gravity. One ride has the passenger get into a round ball, and then they are thrown across the park to another section. However, since this world comes from June’s own vivid imagination, it works. It is a bright and delightful place that will certainly have young viewers wanting to go there whether it exists or not. However, the crazy attractions and the wild amusement park magic becomes a bit tiresome quickly, even as the story begins to look as if it is JURASSIC PARK with cute little chimps doing the damage.

The driving force behind the film is the relationship between June and her mother. Early on, we see the parents - the father is played by Matthew Broderick - as they receive a phone call with bad news. Considering the over-the-top nature of the opening sequence, this gets a little dark. Even still, they tend to gloss over it and it quickly returns to a more joyful flick when June happens to discover the real WONDER PARK - something she only thought existed in her head. Once she arrives, the adventure part kicks in, but there is very little that is new here. Aside from a couple of clever jokes, this is a very basic animated feature that rarely rises above a silly cartoon. Even the storyline with the mom narrowly manages to offer up an emotional connection - however, Garner brings a lot of heart to her voice work and it is easy to at least feel a bit of heartache for the family.

Wonder Park, Mila Kunis, Ken Jeong, John Oliver, Jennifer Garner, Nickelodeon, animation, 2019Interestingly enough, if you are looking for the film’s director, you won’t find it listed in iMDB. However, I did find the name of Dylan C. Brown on one site, yet it appears he isn’t mentioned much when it comes to his involvement. Instead, it is easier to find both Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec who have more prominent billing as screenwriters. Perhaps that is part of the problem. The film is a bit of a mess, and even the sensitive subject of a sick parent isn’t utilized terribly well. There are a few enjoyable moments as June begins to bond with her animal pals. Yet even at a less than hour and a half running time, this animated fable tends to drag until it’s mostly obvious final act.

WONDER PARK is a mess. The idea is clever, and the amusement park thrills are occasionally in order, but ultimately it is likely to only satisfy the very young. As bright and colorful as it is, the film rarely manages to create a spark of magic. This is a tiresome animated story that feels thrown together, with characters that frankly aren’t very memorable. Certainly there is an audience for this, and since it is so short it is mostly painless. Yet it is still a bit of a chore to sit through, and even the emotional arc is cheapened and not nearly as potent as it could have been. If you are looking for a great family film for everyone, this isn’t it. Frankly, there is very little actual wonder in this dull animated adventure.

Source: JoBlo.com



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