WONDER PARK – A Review by Cynthia Flores

 

WONDER PARK – A Review by Cynthia Flores

This new animated film from Nickelodeon that was directed by several people throughout its creation is, pardon the pun, a wild ride of a movie.  Wonder Park tells the story of a little girl named June (Sofia Mali) and the close-knit family of her dad (Matthew Broderick) and mom (Jennifer Garner) who all love the imaginary theme park they have created called Wonderland.  The dad tolerates all the mess of creations and rides that lie all over the house.  But her mother actively works on the blueprint with her daughter and urges June on as they come up with new rides for the park, always telling her that “you are the wonder in Wonderland.”

Once they come up with an idea June’s mom gives the magic marker to the stuffed monkey doll named Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz) and whispers what they want to be created in his ear, then they know he will use his magic to make it happen.  They tell him to create things like a merry-go-round made with fishes instead of horses.  When you’re on the ride, you can press down on the top fin, and they will take off from the merry-go-round and fly you all over the park.  “Splendiferous” they all shout at the idea in front of Peanuts’ team of stuffed animal friends that help him run Wonderland.  They are Greta (Mila Kunis) a wild boar who manages the team, Steve (John Oliver) a porcupine who is the safety officer, Boomer (Ken Hudson Campbell) a blue bear who welcomes the visitors to wonderland, and the beaver brothers that fix and repair the park Gus (Kenan Thompson) and Cooper (Ken Jeong).

As June gets older, around ten, we see her using math to figure out trajectories for roller coasters that she and her friends in the neighborhood, including her best friend Banky (Oev Michael Urbas), actually build and test out.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out as well as June hoped it would, but it sure was fun trying.  Shortly after the rollercoaster’s epic fail, June’s mom gets sick and has to go away to see specialists to try and save her.  Before she goes she tells June, “Don’t forget you are the wonder in Wonderland, don’t let your spark of imagination go out.”

While her mother is away June changes and becomes fearful of life.  She doesn’t want to play with Banky and her friends anymore and has put away everything that reminds her of the wonderland she built with her mom.  In a fit of rage, she even throws the blueprint they made together into the fireplace where just a scrap of it escapes up the chimney and out on the wind.  After that, her father insists she go to math camp with her friends as she had planned before her mom got sick.  June begrudgingly goes but then freaks out fearing her father needs her to take care of him.  She escapes off the bus and decides to hike back home.  On the way, the scrap of blueprint that escaped being burnt hits June in the face and leads her into the enchanted woods.

Once in the woods she finds an old rollercoaster car from Wonderland, gets in and is taken into the park she thought was just in her imagination.  Once there, she meets up with the now alive stuffed animal team that run the park.  She also finds out that it is falling apart because of an immense cloud of darkness that came over the park one day and turned the cute stuffed chimp dolls into chimpan-zombies that are alive and set on destroying the park and sending it up into the darkness piece by piece.  Now June and the gang must find Peanut, and together, try to save the park from the darkness and get it up and running again.  Will they be able to defeat the horde of chimpan-zombies in time?  Well, you’ll just have to go see the film to find out.

Wonder Park is a great feast for the eyes with memorable multi-cultural characters.  The heart of the film is the theme that a sense of imagination is a gift to be nurtured and used no matter what life sends your way.  It’s fun and exciting just as an action picture should be. I do believe, however, that it’s best suited for kids over five years old because some of the battle scenes are intense.  Also, parents of young children need to be ready to talk about illness and the fear of loss because June’s mother getting sick and going away is a big part of the story.  All in all, Wonder Park is a great way to start off the Spring season.  I give it a solid A rating.

 

Directed by David Feiss, Clare Kilner, Robert Iscove

Written By Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Robert Gordon

Rated PG

Selig Rating A

Running Time 1hr 25min,

Animation/ Adventure

Wide Release March 15th

Starring: Sofia Mali, Jennifer Garner, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Ken Jeong, Norbert Leo Butz

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

B – Good movie

C – OK movie

D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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