I was not going to go to see this film because the reviews were low and I have been known to skip the poorly reviewed animated movies. I am not usually their targeted audience. However, there was an open space of time between Apollo 11 and Captive State so I decided to watch this instead of just sit in the lobby and wait. I made the right choice. This film was better than I thought it was going to be, but it was not one of those animated films that will transcend the age of the audience.
June (Brianna Denski) was a creative and active young girl, who was constantly building things for a model of an imaginary theme park called Wonder Park. Her mother (Jennifer Garner) was very supportive of her child, even when her most recent construction leveled a good chunk of the neighborhood.
However, June’s mother took sick and needed to go away to try and get better, leaving June alone with her somewhat bumbling father (Matthew Broderick). The angst over her mother’s illness put a halt to her creativity and her imagination as she obsessed with keeping her father healthy.
When she winds up in the woods, something magical overtakes June and she finds herself in the actual Wonder Park, but it was anything but how she knew it. It was run down, broken and consumed with darkness. June teams up with the personification of her stuffed animals to try and stop the darkness and return the park to its glory.
The story was painfully predictable, but might not be for the young children in attendance. There was some nice colors and character designs, the villainous chimpanzombies were cute, and there was some decent voice work, especially from HBO’s John Oliver as a porcupine named Steve.
The story itself though felt extremely rushed and crammed together and, because of that, did not deliver the emotional response most of the time that it was looking for. Some of the early parts of the story with June and her mother were good and the very ending in the park, while predictable as can be, felt as if it carried a little bit of weight. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the movie was basically fluff without the depth that could have elevated the idea here into something more than a way to waste 90 minutes with the kiddos at the theater.
While I found this more entertaining than sitting and looking at my phone in the lobby of the theater, Wonder Park is not a great movie by any stretch. I do think it has some value for the very young movie goers and it flies rapidly through to prevent the parents from being too bored. Of course, that very rush in storytelling will also make it challenging for the parents to be entertained.