Apart from a few visually beautiful moments, there is nothing wondrous at all about Wonder Park.
Wonder Park Synopsis
June Bailey is a talented and imaginative child. Together with her mother, she conceptualised Wonderland, a fantastical amusement park run by anthropomorphic animals and beloved by children and adults alike. When June’s mother falls ill, depression leads to June abandoning Wonderland, then deeply withdrawing into herself. What June doesn’t realise is that her withdrawal has profound consequences for Wonderland. Much more than just a figment of her imagination, Wonderland exists. So do all the magical beings operating it.
This wasn’t anything to look forward to, to put it simply. That is, outside of a few beautiful 3D moments.
The story initially had promise, with an extended lead-in that felt full of potential for commentary about the ordeals of children living with ill parents. Sadly, once the magic begins, so to speak, Wonder Park becomes nothing more than a run-of-the-mill cutesy animal feature. One without any memorable characters, if I might add.
But, this is ultimately a Nickelodeon feature i.e. a (very) young kids movie, so I suppose it’s only fair to say there’s nothing too wrong with that. We don’t want traumatised children walking out of the cinema, after all.
And yet …
Animation has long been recognised as a potent storytelling medium, with animated features like Coco and Boss Baby having well-demonstrated the capability of the genre for a vast variety of analysis and elucidation. Because of that, shouldn’t the bar be much higher than before?
The standard now ought not to be just colourful entertainment for children but also relatability for the adults accompanying children to the cinema. (Pity the bored parents, in other words) On this, Wonder Park all but ignored that purpose.
Again, it wouldn’t be fair to label the movie as insipid; there were at least some laughs. But in my opinion, the ability to depict a story on different levels is what makes the difference between a superior production and one that’s forgotten a few months/weeks down the road. For Wonder Park, it’s clearly a case of the latter. A determined case of the latter.