Movie review

Into an enchanted grove of woods goes June (Brianna Denski), the 8-year-old green-eyed, redheaded heroine of “Wonder Park.” There she finds the overgrown ruins of the amusement park of the title.

She recognizes the place. It’s a fantasy hatched from her own lively imagination. It’s a dream made real.

It’s a METAPHOR! As big and blaringly obvious as the huge Wonder Park sign hanging over the ruin.

The park is the embodiment of June’s creativity, now squelched, following the trauma of her mother (Jennifer Garner) having been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Mother and child are super close. The mom encourages her daughter’s flights of imagination and collaborates with her on building a model of the park in the family’s suburban home. When mom is taken to the hospital, depression descends. June dismantles the Wonder Park-of-the home and packs the bits away in a box.

Depression then manifests itself as a purple worm-hole-type cloud swirling threateningly over the woodsy Wonder Park. Its residents — stuffed animals from June’s bedroom brought to nattering life — call it The Darkness, and say it’s hastening the park’s destruction as it sucks the ruins into its swirl.


Well, calling Captain Obvious. Come here and wallop us upside the head with your messaging.

With lines like (mother to child) “you are the wonder in wonderland,” and (child to self) “I am the wonder in wonderland,” and (group hug time) “we are the wonder in wonderland,” not to mention (creature to other creature, reverently) “her light is stronger than The Darkness,” you could say the captain is working overtime in this one.

Newcomer Denski brings plenty of perkiness to her voice work, but she and the rest of the B-list actors supplying the other voices often give in to the franticness that is the default setting of way too many animated movies for kids. Why talk when you can SHOUT! And SCREAM! Lots of screaming here as the park’s revived rides get everyone overexcited.

It’s colorful. It’s predictable. And also quickly forgettable. Genuine wonderment is in short supply in “Wonder Park.”


★★ “Wonder Park,” with the voices of Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, Matthew Broderick, Norbert Leo Butz, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Ken Hudson Campbell. Direction attributed to Dylan Brown, David FeissClare Kilner and Robert Iscove, from a screenplay by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec. 86 minutes. Rated PG for some mild thematic elements and action. Opens March 15 at multiple theaters.