I’ve always been a fan of animated films. There’s something magical about them where they can convey that feeling in a different way than a live action film can. I’ve also been obsessed with amusement parks and specifically roller coasters since I was a young kid. Naturally, when I saw the trailer for Wonder Park I knew I had to see it despite thinking the trailer looked a little generic. My thoughts on the trailer ended up carrying over to my thoughts on the entire film. It was a somewhat generic, decent animated film with a few solid characters, but the actual part of the film that takes place in the park felt a bit quick and underdeveloped.
The plot of the film goes like this: June Bailey (voiced by Brianna Densky) is an adventurous, imaginative child. Her mom (voiced by Jennifer Garner) and her come up with Wonderland and the story behind it. It’s a magical amusement park run by animals. The leader is Peanut, a monkey who creates rides when he hears Mrs. Bailey’s voice whisper them from afar. June’s mom gets sick and is sent away to attempt to beat the sickness and recover. June’s life turns upside down with her mother leaving, and she ends up resenting Wonderland and distancing herself from it.
She eventually takes it all down and burns the blueprints while angry one day. June’s father (voiced by Matthew Broderick) sends her to math camp that summer, hoping that will get her mind off of things. On the day she leaves, the note Mr. Bailey leaves for her makes her think she can’t leave him alone at the house and she decides she has to go back. She’s already on the bus to math camp though, so her friend Banky helps create a distraction for her and she disappears into the woods.
While walking through the woods on her way back home, she stumbles upon a broken-down roller coaster. She climbs into the seat, and it takes off into a real life Wonderland! She soon meets the animals her mother and her created – Boomer (big blue bear voiced by Ken Hudson Campbell), Greta (wild boar voiced by Mila Kunis), Steve (porcupine voiced by John Oliver), and Gus and Cooper (beaver brothers voiced by Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong, respectively). Missing is Peanut…they inform June that Peanut is dead.
The park is being attacked by plush toys turned evil called the Chimpanzombies and surrounded by a storm cloud named the Darkness. The park is all broken down. June gets to know each of the animals over their short time together, and they try to fix some of the park’s mechanics. As they do, they’re attacked by more Chimpanzombies and June gets separated from the group, shot into the floating chamber of Zero-G land. From here, there are a couple twists and turns, so I won’t spoil the rest.
There are some positives with Wonder Park. The park itself is quite imaginative and well done. It’s hard not to enjoy some of what’s going on if you love theme parks like I do. The animals all have great voice actors and they’re entertaining to watch. And the film is harmless. The problem is that the positives end there.
The plot is decent, but it feels very generic. While most animated films these days are aimed at entertaining the whole family, this one really zones in on kids specifically. It’s a bit dumbed down without the usual adult undertones and themes you may get from a Pixar film. Outside of the first fifteen minutes, the plot moves quickly without much development along the way. It’s hard to get very attached to any of the characters because of this. They may be enjoyable characters, but there’s not much depth to them. I would have loved to spend more time with the animals specifically. And most importantly, I really wish more time was spent in the park. There are so many possibilities within this magical place, yet I don’t feel like that was explored as much as it could have been.
Overall, Wonder Park is a mediocre animated film. It has some great ingredients, but it doesn’t utilize those ingredients well. If you have kids, I’m sure they’ll enjoy it. If you’re going because you loved animated films yourself, skip this one.