In the privacy of her bedroom, eight-year-old math whiz and aspiring engineer June (voiced by Brianna Denski) is building a model of Wonderland from scratch with her ever-supportive mother (voiced by Jennifer Garner).
In her young mind, June imagines the place to be a magical amusement park where the carousel is made of airborne goldfish, the river rapids glow like 4th of July fireworks and gravity-defying rides thrill delighted crowds.
The streets are always packed with visitors from all over the world, lured by its jaw-dropping attractions. Peanut (voiced by Norbert Leo Butz), a chimpanzee, creates a spectacular world of endless fun with his magical marker and manages the park with the help of an animal staff (inspired by June’s collection of stuffed animals).
June’s mother, however, suddenly becomes very ill and has to seek medical treatment away from home. The deep fear of losing her mother to a terminal illness and missing her biggest cheerleader proves to be too much for June to bear. Being unable to process the profound fear and heartache, June abandons her work on Wonder Park.
She then stumbles upon an enchanted clearing, where Wonder Park has come to life and finds her imaginary friends – Boomer, the welcome bear (voiced Ken Hudson Campbell); Steve, the safety specialist porcupine (voiced by John Oliver); Greta, the sensible boar (voiced by Mila Kunis); and maintenance beavers Cooper (voiced by Ken Jeong) and Gus (voiced by Kenan Thompson).
To June’s dismay, a mysterious darkness has descended upon the park and steals all its former glitz and glory. It is abandoned and under attack by a horde of adorable/freaky Chimpanzombies. June needs to uncover the mystery behind the Darkness before Wonderland gets destroyed forever.
I went for the preview with little expectation, but found myself reasonably entertained by the movie, despite the fact that its targetted at an audience below the age of 12.
The movie celebrates the power of family, imagination and yes you guessed it, teamwork. I also love how the message of self-belief and staying positive in the face of adversity comes across loud and clear.
I wish, however, that the movie could havr explored the mother and daughter dynamic more. Or maybe tackle the topic of terminal illness and death head on. While, the topic may be difficult for some kids to digest, having a loved one afflicted by terminal illness is a real-life challenge for many children in the world, some very young, and this might have helped them to understand that they are not alone.
Having said that, my son aged seven and daughter 11, both loved the movie and gave it a high rating of 4/5.
And guess what? My darling number two actually said he loved the supposedly horrifying, but in actuality really cute chimpanzombies (I personally found them to be tiny bit freakish though. Lol).
Final verdict, it’s definitely worth watching. Wonder Park airs this weekend, so grab your tickets today.