Friday, May 03, 2019

Wonder Park (2019)

It would seem that the moment I joined AMC’s A-List, AMC started requiring that I pick a seat beforehand.  I don’t know if this is coincidence or not.  It does seem to be new, as people are still getting used to it.  However, it does have its advantages.  I can pick a seat with lots of leg room.  I can also see how full a movie is before getting seats.  This is especially useful for an animated movie like Wonder Park, where there might be lots of children.  I was fortunate to have only two other people, both adults, watching the movie with me.  Children tend to be, shall we say, unpredictable audience members.

The movie is about a girl named June who plans an imaginary park with her mother, called Wonderland.  (This leads to the conundrum of why a movie about Wonderland would be called Wonder Park.  There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer for this.)  The plans are derailed when June’s mother, simply called Mom, has to go away.  (It’s not explicitly stated, but parents will pick up on the fact that the reason is most likely cancer.)

This leave’s Dad to take care of June.  He does his best, but June is affected by Mom's departure.  She puts away anything related to Wonderland, instead becoming overly protective of her father.  It becomes so bad that Dad has to send June to math camp to get her mind off of things.  She initially agrees, but escapes the bus ride and tries to run back  She’s diverted when she finds a piece of her Wonderland map and is led to the actual Wonderland, or what’s left of it.

There, she meets all of the characters that she and her mother created.  Many of the rides are there, but the park is being dismantled by chimpanzombies (stuffed toys that came to life) and fed into a great void called The Darkness.  Absent, at first, is Peanut, a chimpanzee who builds the park.  June manages to find him, believing that if he can fix the rides, all will be restored.

I think this may be a movie that was intended for both children and adults that somehow missed the mark.  There’s a certain amount of allegory that will go over the heads of children.  To be honest, I started reading about the movie after I saw it.  I came to realize that I had missed a bit, myself.  For instance, the chimpanzombies could be seen as an allusion to cancer.  They’re in the likeness of Peanut and attack the park, much like a cancer would attack a person.  (They’re also difficult to get rid of.)

I’m not sure this is a bad thing.  Someone who wanted to sit back and just watch the movie could easily do so.  On that level, it works as a girl who goes off on an adventure and finds the peace of mind that she needs.  On the other hand, someone who wanted to find deeper meaning could find a few connections.

The trouble is that it’s not a really great story.  It sort of reminds me of The Explorers.  The Explorers was rushed to production and had an incomplete feel to it.  Wonder Park seems like something that wasn’t quite fully developed, either.  It’s an entertaining 85 minutes, but it’s not the best I’ve seen.

According to Wikipedia, Nickelodeon is using this to launch a TV show, which I suppose makes sense.  I could see this being a pilot episode, setting up the characters and mythology.  Still, given the 85 minute runtime, I feel like the movie could have done better.  Then again, this may explain why I don’t watch any of Nickelodeon’s TV shows.

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