Wonder Park is the latest family entertainment film to hit theaters from Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies. Directed by Dylan Brown, with a screenplay written by Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemac, Wonder Park tells the story of June (Brianna Denski) and an imaginative amusement park named Wonderland she created with her mother (Jennifer Garner). When the film begins, we meet a young June who before bedtime is building the latest ride for the park with her mom. The filmmakers use a framing device to show us how the park to life.
June has a stuffed monkey named Peanut who serves as the master of ceremonies inside the “real” Wonderland. When June whispers an idea to the stuffed monkey, the “real” Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz) hears and uses a magical pen to create the new ride. When an unexpected tragedy occurs involving June’s mom, June begins to lose her sense of wonder and imagination. To cheer his daughter up, June’s father decides to send her to summer camp.
Naturally, June decides to leave and she magically ends up in Wonderland. However, the park is no longer the fun June thought it was. Along with a warthog Greta (Mila Kunis), Boomer the Bear (Ken Hudson Campbell), Steve the Porcupine (John Oliver) and pair of beavers (Kenan Thompson & Ken Jeong), June works to restore Wonderland to its former glory.
In my late teen years, I was a huge fan of the simulation video game “RollerCoaster Tycoon” so the concept of Wonder Park caught my eye. Much to my surprise, my ten-year-old son didn’t care for the trailer, but he decided to see it anyway. Sadly ,Wonder Park won’t entertain anyone over the age of five.
Fair warning that the trailers are a bit misleading and some parents may object to the shift in tone the film takes. Granted, Wonder Park never goes as far as it could’ve with the plot device involving June’s mom, but I understand why some parents may have an issue. The primary issue in Wonder Park appears to be the script. Watching the finished product, it’s almost as if two movies were going on but the writers couldn’t find a common middle ground. While the film is catering to a younger audience, the writers still could’ve included jokes in the movie for the parents. I was also hoping to see some more of the imaginative side of June’s mind come to life. Mila Kunis was also a letdown with her vocal performance, as she seemed to be bored in the role.
Thankfully, the other voice work in the film is stronger. Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner and Matthew Broderick are great as June and her parents, while Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong provide their usual comic flair. I also enjoyed Boomer the bear (Ken Hudson Campbell) and Steve the porcupine (John Oliver) as I wasn’t too familiar with their work.
Animated family movies can be hit and miss, and Wonder Park is a miss. While younger audiences may find some joy in the film, their older siblings and parents may be bored. I recommend skipping out on this and waiting for it on the market.
Final Grade D