Wonder Park: Film Review

It’s the Easter holidays so naturally we have some animated movies set to hit cinemas. First up is Wonder Park, which is a sweet and entertaining way to spend just under 90 minutes.

The film follows June (Brianna Denski), who has grown up creating the magical amusement park Wonderland with her mum (Jennifer Garner), with the duo even bringing it to life in miniature size around the house. One day her mum gets sick and goes away to get better and June is no longer interested in the park and packs it all away. During a trip to math camp, June escapes the bus to go back to her dad (Matthew Broderick) and ends up in the woods, where she discovers Wonderland. However, it has fallen into disrepair as it has been overrun with “chimpanzombies” which want to destroy the park. June has to tackle “the darkness” and bring Wonderland back to its former glory.

Anyone paying any attention will be able to pick up on the thinly veiled metaphors at work here. It is obvious that June and Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz), the monkey in charge of inventing rides at the park, are the same person, not knowing how to do things without mum, and “the darkness” is her unaddressed feelings about her mum’s illness. As such, it made me think a lot about A Monster Calls, which works with a similar theme – a child using their imagination to help them come to terms with their reality. Admittedly, Wonder Park does it in a more obvious manner but I’m still impressed that a seemingly light-hearted slice of kids’ entertainment deals with such big themes. I doubt kids will pick up on this though and will simply enjoy it at face value.

The film takes a short while to get going and I feared it was going to super sad for too long – it really made me think of Up, having such sadness at the start, but it moves on really quick and then we get to the fun at Wonderland. The characters aren’t developed all that well and the plot doesn’t reinvent the wheel but the script was actually quite funny. My personal favourite was porcupine Steve (John Oliver), who cracked me up a lot. He has top support from Mila Kunis as wild bore Greta, Tom Baker as narcoleptic bear Boomer and YouTube’s Joe Sugg and Caspar Lee as beaver brothers Gus and Cooper (voiced by Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong in the US).

There might be some deeper meanings and jokes that only adults will pick up on but Wonder Park can be enjoyed by both young and old. Kids should love the visual spectacle of the cool theme park inventions – the rollercoaster looked amazing – and love the adventures the team go on to save the park. It is a pretty average animation but it is cute, a lot of fun and carried an important message. Plus it’s only 85 minutes and that pleases me greatly.

In cinemas now 

(Rating: 3/5)

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