“Wonder Park” stars Brianna Denski, Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, and John Oliver. Released on March 15, 2019, the film is about a girl who joins forces with her imaginary animal friends to save a magical amusement park.
The film is directed by Dylan Brown, who didn’t receive credit due to complaints of “inappropriate” behavior according to the studio. There’s nothing more joyous than going to an amusement park. You get to go on a lot of fun rides, play some games, and eat some tasty food. Creating your own theme park, however, is a different story. It takes a lot of imagination and hard work to make your creation come to life. This movie, in particular, represents that theory in a more kid-friendly matter. We might not get another highly-anticipated animated film for families until June, so it’s a good thing the folks from Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon have something to help us pass the time. It is also the latest animated film to be produced by Ilion Animation Studios, the same animation company that produced “Planet 51” a decade ago. What’s even more interesting is that it will have its own television series that will premiere later this year after its theatrical release, a similar strategy that Nickelodeon used for “Jimmy Neutron” and “Barnyard” more than 10 years ago. The question is, is it good enough to warrant its own show for television as well as entertain people of all ages?
The story in “Wonder Park” is something that you would find in a library of films that involve a young protagonist entering a magical world, meeting a bunch of bizarre characters, and attempting to thwart an evil force that threatens that world. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the film’s concept. It’s simple and formulaic, yes, but it’s not as inappropriate as the Madea films. Seriously, why do people keep bringing their kids to those types of films? If you go into this movie expecting the story to have the same quality as the animated classics from Disney and Pixar, there's a strong chance that you'll walk out of the theater puking your guts out. In other words, don't expect this one to gather any big awards next year. To the film's credit, the plot was able to maintain the charm that it was going for, and it delivered a respectable message that'll touch the hearts and minds of kids and adults. The major issue was its execution. There were some moments that were mildly enjoyable, and there were some moments that failed to fully emphasize the film's themes in terms of character depth and storytelling. It's suitable for the little ones who needed a break from the outside world, but offered nothing that'll make the parents want to revisit it in the near future. As for the characters themselves, they're not as "splendiferous" as the popular Nickelodeon characters I grew up with, like Spongebob or the Rugrats, but they're tolerable enough to hold the film together. Their attempt at providing humor, however, still needs work. On the bright side, the humor wasn't as crude or obnoxious as some of the other kid-friendly cartoons I've seen. The cast wasn't anything too special, either, but they did a decent job with their performances, regardless, especially newcomer Brianna Denski as June. The animation provided plenty of colors and energy to make the film's setting come alive right in front of children's eyes. It's not entirely groundbreaking, but for a film that's produced by a lesser-known animation studio, it was nice to look at.
Overall, “Wonder Park” has plenty of wonder and dazzling colors that’ll make young kids appreciate the power of imagination, but it’s no Disney Land. Even though the characters and the animation were as enjoyable as riding the bumper cars, the film’s storytelling and humor didn’t have the right amount of creativity to compete with the animation titans like Pixar. As a distraction for the little ones, it’s fine, but as a film made for both kids and adults, it’s something that you would find on television. Speaking of which, I actually wouldn’t mind if they make a show based on “Wonder Park”, even though the film was a mixed bag. Hopefully, they’ll find the right direction for it.