Wonder Park

The most notable thing about Paramount’s “Wonder Park” — a sugar-addled “My Neighbor Totoro” ripoff with a beautiful message and a hideous everything else — is that the movie seems to have been made without a director. That’s not an insult, it’s a fact: Behold what might be the only IMDb page where the writers get top billing.

Perhaps that’s a damning indictment of a production that never found its way. More likely, it’s an honest reflection of how most $100 million animated films are made these days; “Wonder Park” doesn’t feel like the result of a coherent artistic vision as much as it does the result of a Rube Goldbergian workflow so convoluted that it’s a miracle the finished product even cuts together [update: the director, Dylan Brown, was fired for sexual misconduct in early 2018]. Like a rickety wooden roller-coaster with just enough momentum to pull off a vertical loop, the movie is only sustained by its own momentum, and might be too manic for young kids to notice or care that it’s falling apart. And yet, for all the resources that went into its creation (and all the other, better animated fare that it cannibalized along the way), “Wonder Park” is hard to forgive for making so little of its material.

Have you ever spent a day at Six Flags and thought: “The only thing that could make this place better is if it were a clumsy metaphor for staying positive while a parent gets treated for cancer?” If so, “Wonder Park” is the movie for you. June (engagingly voiced by Brianna Denski) is a brilliant and adorable eight-year-old girl whose massive green eyes are almost the size of her brain. A budding engineer with an overactive imagination, June spends every night dreaming up a magical amusement park with some help from her mom (a well-cast Jennifer Garner) and a small army of stuffed animals. They call it Wonderland, an enchanted kingdom where June’s dolls come to life and lead people of all ages from one incredible ride to the next (imagine an enchanted park that’s like Disney World without the physics, or Wonkaland without the egregious number of preventable deaths).

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