Wonder Park


     Wonder Park is a wonderful mixture of adventure, risk and daring-do, problem solving, optimism in the face of setbacks—even some philosophical musings (especially on the part of porcupine Steve in the voice of Oliver) and journeys into grief and depression.

Ten year-old June (Denski) has a vivid imagination, which is encouraged by her mother (Garner) and father (Broderick).  (Seldom in kids movies are parents shown to be so reasonable and nurturing.)  She and her mother have built a glorious Wonder Park populated by animals June is close to as well as fanciful rides.  She gets a bit rambunctious at times, once laying waste in the neighborhood, for which she must suffer the consequences.  But she is not to be discouraged about rebuilding what is broken; her mother expresses supreme confidence in her ability and imagination.

Soon after, her parents have some distressing news, which is that the mother is ill and must go away for treatment.  June is devastated and angry, and becomes overly solicitous (bossy) of her dad, and is rude to a visiting aunt and uncle.  She throws a tantrum and throws one of her presents into the fireplace.  She will discover some of the consequences of this behavior later, first in the form of a blueprint flying about by the wind in a forest.

Manages to maintain a sense of adventure while dealing with grief and depression.

Suddenly, June stumbles upon an abandoned train car, and finds herself traveling to parts unknown.  What she happens upon is a curious Wonder Park that is real, but that looks a lot like hers.   Moreover, this Wonder Park is in deep trouble.  It’s been invaded by Chimpanzombies who are in the process of destroying everything, along with a giant dark cloud that periodically appears, bringing the darkness.  She learns this after she encounters some of her old friends like Boomer (Campbell), Steve, Gus (Thompson), Cooper (Jeong), and Greta (Kunis).  But Peanut (Butz) is missing!  The animals explain to her that Peanut knew that the key to restoring the Park is the Clockwork Swings; he had gone to fix it, but never returned.  Now June knows that her job is to find Peanut and fix the Clockwork Swings.  On her way, she’ll have to deal with all the threats in Wonder Park causing problems and endangering her and her friends.

Along with the brilliant animation and voices, the story is one of the strongest assets of Wonder Park.  In telling the entertaining, suspenseful tale, it manages to maintain a sense of adventure while dealing with grief and depression, trust, self-discovery, social concerns for community and fellow citizens, conscience and redemption, and maintaining a positive outlook on life—a tall order for a children’s movie.  Principal credit for all this goes to the story authors and screenwriters, Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Robert Gordon, and additionally to composer Steven Price, cinematographer John Garcia Gonzalez, and all of the artistic and animation crews.  Apparently David Feiss became the director late in the production after the original director was dismissed.

Final Thought

This is one of the best movies for children ever to come along.


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