Country: United States
Category: Upcoming Fantasy/Adventure
Release Date: March 15, 2019 (United States)
Director: David Feiss
Produced by: Kendra Halland
Music by: Steven Price
Distributed by: Dylan Brown
Production company: Paramount Animation
When Wonder Park, the embattled Paramount and Nickelodeon animated film, released its first trailer, we had some concerns. Now, we have even more. The original question, which still stands, is: how does the theme park in this movie (which may or may not actually be named Wonder Park) get its denizens? The whole thing seems to be run by animals and one small child, so it stands to reason that they’re not exactly running a business here with robust ticket sales, safety regulations, and concession stands. Did these animals kidnap a buncha people? Now, after seeing the second trailer for Wonder Park, I have even more questions. Specifically: what is the history of theme parks in this world? Per this trailer, we get more of the actual story outline of the film, which stars the voices of Jennifer Garner, Kenan Thompson, and John Oliver, among others. The young heroine, June, creates a theme park in her backyard, to disastrous effect. Defeated temporarily but not in spirit, June absconds to the woods? I guess? And finds… the real theme park she imagined, built IRL, and probably also constructed in detail in Rollercoaster Tycoon? And it’s buried in the forest, watched over by talking animals, one of whom is John Oliver.
“Wonder Park” called “Wonder Park”? The heart of the new digitally animated feature, a co-production of Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies, is set in a spectacular fantasy amusement park, with train tracks shaped like a giant octopus’ tentacles, that’s nestled in a pastoral sunlit forest vista that looks like it could be the setting for Shangri-La. As much as any theme park in existence, it seems designed to fulfill any and every child’s dream. The name of the place? Wonderland. It’s possible that “Wonderland,” as a movie title, was seen as some sort of potential infringement upon the Lewis Carroll estate. But whatever the reason, the phrase “wonder park” is never uttered in the film, and that creates a slightly dislocated feeling. So does the rest of the movie. It’s one of those kiddie features in which you can sense, in every scene, how hard the animators are working to please you. It’s as if they were saying, “Look at how catchy our concept is! A magical theme park! A little girl dealing with the trauma of her mother’s illness! And the park, which she imagined — yes, the whole thing is a projection of her creativity and loneliness — turning out to be a place that she has to repair, so that it can go on healing her.”
Wonder Park centers on June (Brianna Denski), a young, creative girl who has a natural engineering talent but is a little short-sighted when it comes to the reality of how her inventions impact the folks around her. Take, for example, a fantastic (and functional) roller coaster June constructs out of materials cobbled together from her and her friends’ homes. It’s a wild ride, but it ultimately leaves the neighborhood in shambles. This simple if not so subtle scene sets up the adventure to come: June is tasked with rebuilding the theme park that’s brought into being by her own imagination but which has fallen on hard times because of neglect. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there is so, so much more to this story.