Wonder Park is an adventure film that explores the power of imagination and strength of character of eight-year-old June (voiced by Brianna Denski), whose close bond with her mother (Jennifer Garner) is what sustains the titular park as a place of awe and goodness. The young girl’s supernormal aptitude for engineering causes a vast amount of damage to the neighbourhood as she attempts to make her dreams a reality.
However, after June’s mother moves to a hospital far away to seek treatment for her illness, her daughter’s excitable sense of fun is replaced by worries about her father (voiced by Matthew Broderick). She escapes from a school trip in order to return home to her dad, and on the way, stumbles upon a run-down, sinister Wonderland that is struggling with the threat of annihilation by the chimpanzombies. These cute little toys have turned evil after the appearance of a purple vortex which coincides with June’s gradual abandoning of the “little light inside” her, despite her mother’s insistence to always keep it alive. This dichotomy of light and dark as good and bad has been exhausted in films as a way to discuss the topics of family, love, support and the importance of an active imagination. This dualism, set against a plot which depends entirely on action, noise and visuals of huge objects shooting across the screen, makes it difficult to stay interested in a story that frantically skips between emotions while spoon-feeding old ideas rather than provoking the imagination.
Much like Hayao Miyazaki’s little girl protagonist in Spirited Away, this is a story of how a child’s imagination, energy and will can help the family see through hard times, but unlike the Studio Ghibli production, Wonder Park is a high-profile and high-budget execution of a low-level plot that undermines its audience, whose ideas, experiences and imaginations warrant something more personally relevant, rather than the marketable scene of high-powered action, explosions and a big friendly blue bear called Boomer (voiced by Ken Hudson Campbell).
Wonder Park is released nationwide on 8th April 2019.
Watch the trailer for Wonder Park here: