I expected “Wonder Park” to be one of the lesser animated pictures of 2019. I didn’t expect it to be so bizarre.
The film primarily follows June (Brianna Denski), a young girl with a creative imagination who pretends to run an amusement park with her mom (Jennifer Garner). However, when her mom becomes sick with an undisclosed illness, June stops playing with the imaginary world of Wonderland.
Just when it seems her creative spark is gone, though, through a series of events, she actually stumbles across the park from her imagination. But the park isn’t all that great. In fact, it’s seemingly fallen into disrepair. As a result, June needs to team with her imaginary friends to restore the park.
So, “Wonder Park” is a film that wants to have the same sort of depth as something like “Inside Out.” However, the movie’s story just doesn’t have a strong enough structure to carry the load.
The film aims high with the concept of June’s dwindling creativity and stress of her mother’s illness being the destructive force that’s wrecking Wonderland. Yet the film never reaches higher in any of its other aspects.
The movie wants to tell this story of a young character dealing with a serious issue, but it’s constantly undercut by over-the-top and largely cliche antics.
Another thing that’s disappointing is how much the movie revolved around this imaginary world. Of course it’s the reason that the movie has so many fantastical setpieces. But there’s just too much of a disconnect going on, outside of the metephor of how June’s mental status is impacting the park, much of this is unrelatable.
It’s a shame, too, because the movie has an early scene with June and many of the neighborhood kids constructing their own theme ride. This sequence seemed a lot more relatable and maybe if the movie would have balanced it more with scenes like this, it could have been better.
It also doesn’t help that the supporting characters are rather shallow. None of the animal characters really have any character. They have very little in actual motivations and are driven more by just quirks. No character is memorable or engaging.
As for the animation, there are some nice visual moments here. One stand out has to deal with several fireworks going off, and it’s some nice eye candy. With that said, the character designs feel somewhat generic.
There was a nice concept at play in “Wonder Park,” yet the movie stumbles in almost every area. It’s one to maybe rent for kids, but not a family classic. 1.5 out of 5.