Wonder Park: A Kid-Centric Movie with a Flat Storyline
Movie Review by Anirudh Madhav (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Wonder Park is like a roller coaster ride for people under 4-feet and a merry-go-round for others who might not find this animated feature entertaining. There is enough magical animation, talking animals and a peek into mental health issues, but the predictable storyline does not evoke enough wonder in this park.
In a place called Wonderland, inhabited by talking furry animals, a monkey called Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz) creates new rides for the park by waving a magic marker. However, Wonderland is not real, but a figment of imagination of a little girl named June (Brianna Denski). The temporary departure of June’s mom (Jennifer Garner) for a treatment leads June to depression and her Wonderland ideas are put to rest. Add in a bit of magic as seen in animated movies and you know where the story is heading.
There are quite a few hiccups in the movie’s core storyline. While June dreams into her own fantasy land complete with ideas, joyrides and animals, the sudden departure of her mom causes her to shun Wonderland and her normal self. It is unclear why June’s mom left in the first place and what caused enough depression for June to reach a state of grief. Then the predictive plot of Wonder Park comes into the focus where, June has to fight the ‘chimpanzombies’ who have risen from the abandoned park’s game stalls.
Pixar’s Up established the love life of childhood sweethearts in the first 15 minutes. However, Wonder Park failed to do that. With plenty of filler shots depicting June building rides around the park and a song, it seemed to be an extended short film. However, the film does have a depth in the character of June, showcasing her skills for endless imagination and her fondness for math.
The animation is strong in parts such as the core characters and the animals, but the landscape and the visuals are dreary, a result of result of lazy animation. Wonder Park had plenty of scope to create a strong narrative where the director could have focused on how the power creativity and imagination could engulf a child to overcome grief. The production of Wonder Park did go through its own share of hiccups when its director Dylan Brown was fired for sexual misconduct. The movie has thrilling elements, simple characters and it is definitely a must watch for kids.
Apart from the clutter of filler sequences, Wonder Park is a noble attempt at delving into the topic of depression. Maybe, the simple nature of the movie is intended for a young audience. Wonder Park doesn’t completely fall flat, however it fails to do justice to the girl’s imagination of Wonderland.