Cast: Brianna Denski, Ken Hudson Campbell, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick
Director: Dylan Brown
I get it. Not every animated movie will be Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a solid, inspired movie that can teach a valuable lesson while also being entertaining. With Wonder Park, you get a film that wildly swings from one side to the other without finding that true sense of consistency that a good movie has. It has some moments where we get heavily invested in the characters and their situation, and other moments are there exclusively to pass the time. If there was any sort of consistency in this movie, it actually wouldn’t be that bad, but Wonder Park feels incredibly generic and never pushes itself to take the next step.
The film follows June Bailey (voiced by Denski), a young girl with a wondrous imagination and a fascination with building amusement park rides and does this with her mother (voiced by Garner). After her mother gets sick and has to go away for treatment, June loses her inspiration to build and begins to feel angry and depressed. When she finds out Wonder Park is real and has been overrun by the evil Chimpanzombies, it’s up to June and the friends she created to restore Wonder Park to its former glory. The one thing I was not expecting from a movie like this is the sick mother storyline and just how intense this movie tried to make these scenes. Of all the voice actors, Denski does a good job of emulating how a child growing up in this environment would feel about her situation. Everything about this movie would leave you to believe that it would be nothing but 85 minutes of pure fun, and these dark moments while mildly interesting don’t match the tone of the rest of the movie. Regarding the rest of the movie, the animation is serviceable for what this movie is trying to do. At times it looks like a cheaper version of The Incredibles, but since that movie is 15 years old, maybe the animation should’ve been updated to match the animation styles of today. The thing that amazed me most about this whole movie is just how massive the budget was. Based on how generic the plot was and how cheap the animation was, I would expect the budget to be relatively small compared to films that it’s competing against. I was stunned when I saw Wonder Park has a budget of $80-100 million. Where was this money spent? It wasn’t spent on animation. It wasn’t spent on writing. I know there are some A-list names in the cast, but are they really worth that much? It just looks like this film was set up for failure right from the start. Speaking of the cast, while most of the voice actors do a fine job of keeping the film afloat, John Oliver really drags the film down whenever he’s in it. If you watch his show, imagine the high-pitch voice he does during his 10-second mid-story skits and replicate it in every scene he’s in. It’s annoying enough on the show, but to have that on repeat for an entire movie is agonizing. Now I’m very worried about The Lion King because if he does more of what he did here, that movie could be a tough one to get through. While Wonder Park is just a small casualty from early 2019, there’s no telling what can happen to future films if they were to follow the same formula that this one did.
Overall, once I found out that a television show would be coming out after this movie ran its course, everything started to make sense. Wonder Park feels much more like a made-for-tv movie and less deserving of a theatrical release. This feels far less like someone was passionate about getting this movie made and they were more concerned with generating something generic to promote their upcoming generic television show. Kids, parents, and all audiences will be able to figure this out and realize that Wonder Park is a dud even for those with the lowest of standards.
Overall Score: 3.5/10