If there's something I typically love to see, it's always an original animated movie. As much as I love a good sequel, prequel or animated movies based on TV cartoons, I feel that original animated movies always seem to have the type of magic that can really spark peoples imaginations. Yet as much as I love them, I can say that "Wonder Park" is certainly not a good one. Being the new animated movie from Nickelodeon, you might think that this movie has all the dazzle and excitement you'd get from animated movies you see from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, or even DreamWorks. It's not though. This movie, in fact, is so boring and bland that it really fails to capture, for the lack of a better term, "wonder" that made those movies so memorable in the first place.
Young June Bailey (Brianna Denski) has always been a very creative girl. So creative in fact that she has built an amusement park model she has named Wonderland. A magical place filled with talking animals, unbelievable attractions, and lots of imagination. Throughout most of her childhood, June and her mother (Jennifer Garner) has spent their time building this magical park until her mother is unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer (which is never explicitly stated) and is sent away to the hospital to recover. Struck by grief over her mother's absence, June puts away her giant model of Wonderland and even goes as far as to even burn the blueprint of the model. One day though, June then stumbles upon the real Wonderland in the woods outside of town and finds her animal friends Boomer (Ken Hudson Campbell), Greta (Mila Kunis), Gus and Cooper (Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong), and Steve (John Oliver) who are trying to restore the park to its former glory and stop the evil Chimpanzombie dolls and the Darkness from destroying the park. Will June be able to fix the park with the help of her animal friends? I think you all might know the answer to that question, but let's get right into why this film doesn't work.
The big problem with this movie is the lack of direction, which shouldn't be surprising given how the movie doesn't even have a directors credit. A former Pixar animator, Dylan Brown, helmed that role until he was fired early last year by Paramount for sexual harassment allegations. I don't blame Paramount for removing his credit, but it still doesn't excuse the not very impressive work done with this film. The story is so boring and predictable that it felt like a bag of cliches. It also did remind me of a lot of other animated movies. The first few minutes of the film oddly reminded me of the "Married Life" scene from "Up" yet it wasn't done nearly as well. Where the first few minutes of that film got us to know about Ellie and make us care about Carl's journey later in the film, here we don't know a lot about June's mother so when she's sent away, we don't really feel a lot for June and it makes us hard to connect to her journey. As for the animation, it's very dazzling and beautifully rendered, but the shots and editing are sometimes very poorly constructed. Throughout the film, the camera shots get so up close and tight that it feels awkward and the editing is so fast-paced and quick that it's hard to see take in what happens in the scene. It really was a distraction. As far as the characters go, they are all so bland and forgettable that I had to literally look up their names since I couldn't even really remember most of them. They go in the specific roles you would put them in. June is the protagonist who then becomes the big hero in the end, and the animals mostly fall in the role of comic relief. They don't do a lot for the story and are just there to mainly tell jokes and try to get the plot moving again. That's about it. Even June's best friend, Banky kind of reminded me of a less inspired version of Clyde McBride from the Nickelodeon show "The Loud House." If I did like at least one character in the film, it was probably Boomer the bear. At least him constantly falling asleep was kind of funny, but it really isn't saying much.
In all honesty, "Wonder Park" really is such an unspectacular movie that it's just a shame. The story is so predictable and boring, the animation while dazzling is something sloppily constructed, and the characters are simply bland blank slates of character traits we have seen in other animated movies and shows. Given how many upcoming Nick animated movies we're getting in theaters and on Netflix like "Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus" and "The Loud House Movie", I feel this movie is a good one to skip while you wait for the other ones. It's not very impressive to worthy a recommendation.