The setting of “Wonder Park,” a goopy pile of trash made by a third-tier animation studio, is an amusement park called … Wonderland. Why isn’t the movie called “Wonderland”? Probably because there are so many other “Wonderland” movies, most of them Alice-related. So why isn’t the park called Wonder Park? Your guess is as good as mine — better, maybe, because you might actually care whereas I’m just freestyle complaining.
Young June (voiced by Brianna Denski) has invented this imaginary theme park with her mom (Jennifer Garner), pretending it’s run by her stuffed animals. In the real world, June designs and builds junior versions of the park’s rides for the amusement of herself and her friends. But when Mom falls ill, June stops playing pretend Wonderland and throws her blueprints in the fireplace, too sad to use her imagination anymore.
This proves disastrous for the inhabitants of Wonderland, who exist (in June’s imagination) and rely on her for guidance! Via magic or something, June walks into a nearby forest and emerges in the actual (imaginary) Wonderland, now in disrepair and overshadowed by a purple cloud called The Darkness. The boss, a chimpanzee named Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz), has gone into hiding. The others — a bear named Boomer (Ken Hudson Campbell), Steve the porcupine (John Oliver), Greta the warthog (Mila Kunis), and a pair of woodchucks (Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong) — are struggling to prevent the park from being completely dismantled by an army of Peanut plush toys from the gift shop that have become “chimpanzombies” (the single most clever thing in the entire film).
Unsurprisingly, a story set in a pretend place with low stakes and no real-world consequences yields unsatisfying results. The threats are nebulous (the source of The Darkness is June’s lack of imagination…), the objectives unclear (…so she just needs to … imagine stuff again?), and there’s no wit or cleverness in the animals’ light-hearted shenanigans and adventures. The fantastical rides are fun, but you can only get so much mileage out of that, even in a movie that’s only 77 minutes without credits. It exists mainly to set up an upcoming Nickelodeon TV series, and it shows.
By the way, if you’re wondering who directed this movie, according to Paramount, the answer is nobody. The actual director, Dylan Brown, was fired more than a year ago after multiple complaints of sexual harassment. He wasn’t officially replaced, however, and the movie simply has no onscreen “directed by” credit, not even a pseudonym. But I have to say, if ever a movie did seem like it directed itself without human input, it would be this one.
D+ (1 hr., 25 min.; )