“WONDER PARK” SUBMERGES YOU VISUALLY IN A POOL OF CAPTAIN CRUNCH BERRIES, BUT THE THEMES GO TO DEEP EMOTIONAL PLACES.
Splendiferous is a word that is used so often In Paramount Pictures animated “Wonder Park”, that if you took a shot everytime it is said. You could douse a whole bottle of Vodka. The big question is, is it Splendiferous? From Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Films. “Wonder Park” is the first of two animated films from Nickelodeon releasing this year, while the other is the big screen debut of “Sonic The Hedgehog”.
Originally titled “Amusement Park”, but yet referred to in the film as “Wonderland” (awfully confusing and not sure of the different names). Anywho “Wonder Park” is sure to bring wonder and amazement to your kids everywhere, but it also brings themes that adults can embrace as it delves into some of life’s darker moments.
June (Brianna Denski) and her mother (Jennifer Garner) love to spend time together imagining the details and constructing a fabulous theme park called “Wonderland”. June has constructed all of the details, from the animal characters who welcome the visitors to the park. Much like “Christopher Robin”, June has created a magic land for her toys, including the hilarious Boomer the bear (Ken Hudson Campbell), who struggles with a hibernation-related form of narcolepsy, hilarious energetic beavers Gus (Kenan Thompson) and Cooper (Ken Jeong), hilarious nervous porcupine Steve (John Oliver), the voice of reason wild boar Greta (Mila Kunis), and Peanut the Chimpanzee (Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz), who translates June’s plans and thoughts into the park’s attractions.
June does more than just imagine the park, she builds a scale model of the park that extends through her house. June gets news her adored mother is very sick, and must leave home for special treatment. This has left June to bond with her father (Matthew Broderick) while the news of her mother being sick, leaves the entire sense of her world to turn upside down. She destroys her model of Wonderland, which leads her to discover a real version of the very Wonderland she designed.
“Wonder Park” had a troubled production history that the original director, Pixar veteran Dylan Brown, was fired following allegations of sexual misconduct. Due to his allegations the studio decided to not credit Brown on the film’s end credits and only emphasise the contributions of the crew and voice actors. Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Robert Gordon’s script does an ample job of keeping the foot on the gas pedal as “Wonder Park” becomes a real roller-coaster ride, like the ones featured in “Wonderland”.
The writers does an excellent job of highlighting the role that sadness plays in our lives. “Wonder Park” teaches us the value of grief and that sadness doesn’t always go away, and that’s ok if it doesn’t. “Wonder Park” has many themes and life lessons that can teach kids that it’s okay to be sad and to never give up on their creative spirit. June herself is inspiring young girls everywhere, as June is depicted as a builder. She loves creating new things and has a unique way of thinking. Seeing her create the world of Wonderland is a great inspiration for girls who love to build things. June has an understanding of advanced scientific formula. She is a strong individual who has the ability to bring life and light back to Wonderland and seeing her showcase her intelligence is a great visual inspiration for any young boy or girl future engineers, architects, and scientists.
“Wonder Park” not only succeeds with it’s deep themes, but also in it’s impressive visuals. Just imagine being submerged in a pool of Captain Crunch Berries in a world of “Willy Wonka”. While the colors are vibrant and bright “Wonder Park’s” cast of characters don’t stand out as anything special. While Boomer The Bear, Porcupine Steve and Beaver’s Gus and Cooper are hilarious, unfortunately they won’t live on in pop culture. The characters get overshadowed because of the story’s themes and come out as more important than both the characters and plot.
“Wonder Park‘s” comedy is both a great mixture of slapstick and witty banter. “Wonder Park” doesn’t rely on slipping in adult humor like most animated films in the last decade. “Wonder Park” trusts its voice actors to deliver its message and it’s old fashioned silliness. What really helps is the tightly packed 90-minute runtime. “Wonder Park” doesn’t wear out its welcome. While it can be your average children’s flick, it’s also something more mature as it focuses on June’s depression and heartache. “Wonder Park” opens the door to crucial conversations between parents and their children.
Who knew an animated film full of talking animals in an amusement park can teach us that we need to embrace the darkness to find the light within ourselves. While it’s ultimately about grief and sheds it’s colorful candy coated world with darker themes, it isn’t a total heartbreaker. Life is full of grief, but the grief can be a reminder that you should appreciate the joy around you. This is an animated film that is full of adventure, meaning and that no matter how wild your imagination is, you should never give up on it because it could lead you to extraordinary places and places full of wonder.
GRADE: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)