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Wonder Park – Movie Review

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Wonder Park – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Paramount Pictures

When Walt Disney had the idea for Disneyland, he wanted to create an amusement park where children and their parents could have fun together. Wonder Park seems to go against this idea for its own magical theme park, as this is primarily aimed at children. That would be fine if the movie was able to showcase some level of imagination. While a little bit peeks out, the movie just sort of rushes from one action set-piece to the next and then it’s over. The movie is the equivalent of cotton candy and while there is an attempt at a sentimental subplot, the emotions don’t feel all that earned.

Every single scene is directed, by an uncredited Dylan Brown and later David Feiss, at top speed and the movie rarely slows down for a breather. Outside of a few musical montages, the characters are frequently yammering away and what they’re saying isn’t particularly insightful or funny. The lead character, an imaginative girl named June, is the generic moppet child protagonist. The early scenes do recall Up in how they depict a loved one getting sick, but without the emotional pathos that such a storyline requires. It unfortunately comes across as a cheap way to create sympathy and to drive the plot forward.

Brown and Feiss direct the many action scenes like a sugar rush, frequently zooming by with little coherence. It even makes a little difficult to appreciate the animation, which is quite nice. The character designs do show plenty of creativity and give the talking animals living in the park some distinctiveness missing from their personalities. The army of zombie toy monkeys is particularly clever. However, the amusement park itself never feels quite as wonderful as the title proclaims. Even when it’s shown as busy and bustling, it doesn’t look like an appealing place to visit, lacking the architectural brilliance and cross-generational appeal of real-life parks like Disney World and Efteling.

There are plenty of attempts at humour that unfortunately don’t land. The running joke with a narcoleptic bear gets tiring very quickly and two beavers serve the function of the annoying sidekicks. Not even the voice acting can elevate the jokes, although the presence of Matthew Broderick and John Oliver does result in smiles. Mila Kunis voicing a wild boar proves distracting, though. The second her voice comes out of that pig, all one can think of is Kunis in the recording studio. It is completely a wrong fit for the design they’ve given this character.

Wonder Park certainly has a concept that lends itself to an imaginative animated movie, but the final result is closer to a fast-moving roller coaster you just want to get off of before getting too dizzy. The movie is so concerned with losing the audience’s attention span that it keeps whizzing by at a disorienting pace. Even the attempts at emotion don’t register in a satisfying way and seems almost misguided at times. An animated series will reportedly follow on Nickelodeon later this year and a television show might be better suited to the fast-paced antics of this amusement park than a feature-length motion picture.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison