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Wonder Park’s behind-the-scenes has been plagued with trouble from the start with a director losing credit for the film, constant delays, and almost no consistent advertising for the final cut of the film. Wonder Park is an agonizing experience both on and off screen.
Wonder Park’s direction is misguided and lost in a world that connects two flawed parts of an animated film together to make a mess of a plot. With complications on set, there's no knowing just how lost this production got at times, and that's what makes this film make more sense with just how many issues there are. From overly sensitive material to unnecessarily cheesy animalistic characters, the direction never quite knows what tone to utilize in the runtime of the feature. With multiple reasonably setup moments of creative momentum, the film seems to just throw these set pieces away at a second’s notice for a wacky wasted love story between a porcupine & a warthog or to a complex, never fully fleshed out mental breakdown of a little girl possibly about to lose her mother. If the two story arcs listed above don’t seem to blend together through the written word, well believe me, they clash on screen as well. Ultimately the direction is a colossal disappointment with wasted potential around every corner.
The plot (not including the characters) is where the film completely falls apart with a choppy animated storyline that follows the set guidelines a majority of animated films follow these days making the overly upsetting illness that’s sprung upon her mother seem much more insensitive for younger viewers, and to say it simply: it’s predictable. The story follows June, a young girl creating an impossible amusement park with her imagination, alongside her loving mother, in which the park is run by talking animals (stuffed animals in June’s playroom.) Once June’s mother becomes sick her imaginations dwindles, having to regain the mental strength to save the “real” hidden-away Wonder Park from a black hole in the sky known as “The Darkness” that’s infested her subconscious - removing all the fun from her head entirely.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Wonder Park is lead by a young girl who shares her vivid imagination with her family and neighborhood friends. The issue with her character, along with every other child in the film, is that they don’t speak like children. Their vocabulary sounds odd for even an adult to be saying, but introducing it with the voice of children makes it work even less. Luckily the children characters in the film are gotten rid of by the twenty minute mark, leaving only June. Unfortunately however, she’s still an issue, just in a much smaller scale. Her mother and father characters are relatively stereotypical for this type of movie, with the voice acting by Jennifer Garner and Matthew Broderick being possibly the most coherent with the character designs in the film. Now there are certainly much more fun voice actors than these two in the film, however almost the entire cast of animals running the theme park are funny in small doses, it’s easy to overdose on boredom after getting a little too much at once. John Oliver falls primarily in this category, having you laughing one moment from his silliness to groaning the next for the same reason. The only voice actor who failed to fully capture their animated self was Mika Kunis, who was severely miscast in the film, never portraying a character that cares for the world she lives in or the people that reside within. Kunis’ delivery is lazy compared to the other actors and she brings the film down even farther when she’s prominently placed front and center of the story.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is better left forgotten, as I can’t remember any high notes from the film; none take full advantage of any action set piece or depressing moments. It reminded me of a cheap daytime Nickelodeon animated show that this film ironically is being turned into, similar to Barnyard or Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
The animation may not be Pixar or even the latest Universal animated films quality, but it’s really adequate for the story being presented. The trailers are a poor representation of the overall animation that the film entails, but that alone isn’t a reason to see the film - namely because there are plenty of gorgeous films available to watch straight from your sofa.
I went into Wonder Park hardly knowing anything about the film. From its cast to its plot, I was blind beyond seeing an outdated trailer nearly a year before the film’s theatrical release. Now after witnessing the film alone in a dark theater with only my thoughts and no children to encourage me to enjoy the content more than I should of; with a clutter of wasted talent, annoying characterization, weak storytelling and an outrageous melding of plots that in no way blend together, I can say with confidence that Wonder Park is an absolute dud, apart from its subpar animation keeping the film afloat, the film otherwise flies off the rails and sinks into the lagoon of possibilities.