By STACY BAUER & DAX HUGHES
Jimplecute Movie Reviewers
I’m so confused. Throughout the entire movie until the very, very ending scene, all of the characters referenced their imaginary amusement park as “Wonder-L-A-N-D.”
Distracting as an obvious, key disconnect in storytelling, since the movie after all, is titled with the word “park” not “land;” the wheels had already fallen off the roller coaster car, for me, from the start.
Though A-list talent voiced the film, Matthew Broderick, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Garner, John Oliver, Ken Jeong, Kenan Thompson and newcomer Brianna Denski, an unheard of group called Ilion Animation Studios handled the animation, so maybe that’s the reason the whole thing we saw, not heard, seemed subpar and far off the rails.
Luster is further tarnished by having the Paramount Pictures director’s credit purposely missing. Dylan Brown did the film work, but was left off due to “multiple complaints of ‘inappropriate and unwanted behavior’,” toward women, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Since filming was almost complete, no replacement was hired … (shoulder shrug?). Our protagonist is an elementary-school-aged little girl, June Bailey. She has a vivid, wild imagination, and with the help of her mother, has created an extensive plan for Wonderland.
When mom turns up mysteriously ill (we’re never let in on specifics) and must leave the home for extended treatment, June abandons the whimsy of her mind for upset and solitude. She literally burns her park plans in the fireplace and stores everything away.
On the way to math camp, June “escapes,” thinking her dad is in need, only to stumble upon her Wonderland incarnate. It is left in disarray, a mirror of how earlier she abandoned the idea. She and a merry band of toys flee the army of psychotic enemies who are trying to sacrifice the park to “The Darkness,” which is essentially a metaphor for June’s sadness.
I hate to say it, but all of the animal-ally characters are flat, one-dimensional, and forgettable. I can’t really name one, just all blending together into a pile of gush, rushing to the rescue.
The scenes seem muted and visually dull. So does June’s mom return home; is the park rescued from chimpanzombie darkness, does her grief return to sparkling childhood delight? Maybe, maybe not, but you’d have to be invested to care, and I wasn’t. But I did get a short nap in the middle.
“Wonder Park” is rated PG and runs 86 minutes.
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