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Review: Wonder Park (2019)

Director: – | 85 minutes | animation, adventure | voice cast: Stefania, Jan Kooijman, Tim Douwsma, Peggy Vrijens, Matheu Hinzen, Murth Mossel, Jannemien Cnossen, Frans Limburg, Roué Verveer | Original Voice Cast: Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Ken Jeong, Norbert Leo Butz, Oev Michael Urbas, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Kevin Chamberlin, Kath Soucie,

Based on his resume, Dylan Brown has a glorious career ahead of him. The animator learned his trade in the Pixar stable, where he worked on films such as “Toy Story 2” (1999), “Monster “s Inc. “(2001),” Finding Nemo “(2003),” The Incredibles “(2004) and” Ratatouille “(2007). A few years ago it was time to stand on their own two feet and Brown teamed up with Spanish studio Illion to produce “Wonder Park” (2019). He seemed to be heading for the first self-directed animated feature film, until the # metoo movement got underway and several women made known by accusing Brown of sexually transgressive behavior. He denied, but was fired anyway, after which a group of anonymous but dyed-in-the-wool animators continued the job. The result is a film that is far from bad, but marked by its troubled production process: “Wonder Park” will go down in history as the first major studio release without a director in the credits. Because instead of opting for an Alan Smithee-like solution (the pseudonym that was previously used in Hollywood as a director’s credit when the filmmaker in question distanced himself from the final product), naming the director is even completely omitted here.

Incidentally, both Brown’s background with Pixar and the messy production can be seen in the film itself. Some of the elements that make Pixar films so successful – talking stuffed animals (the ‘Toy Story’ series) for example, or the way children deal with intense emotions (many Pixar titles respond to this, but the similarities are strongest with ‘ Inside Out ‘(2015) – appears in’ Wonder Park ‘. However, the effect, probably partly due to the unrest behind the scenes, is significantly less than with the work of Brown’s former employer. The heroine in this story is called June (voice of Brianna Denski), a girl of about ten with a vivid imagination who likes nothing better than to create a fictional amusement with her mother (voice of Jennifer Garner), with her stuffed animals acting as hosts and ladies. , speaking talents and mascots in one. She draws entire plans, designs the most spectacular attractions and together with her friends from the neighborhood she even decided to recreate a self-designed roller coaster in the backyard. in. But then her mother gets sick; she has to go to a clinic indefinitely to undergo treatment. June promptly loses all her zest for life (if you hear the echo of “Up” (2009) in this, you are not alone). She puts away her maps and model attractions, puts her stuffed animals away and decides to fully focus on caring for her father (voice of Matthew Broderick), so that he does not get sick too. She decides to cut off the bus trip to the math camp, because she is afraid that her father will not make it on his own. In the woods on her way home, however, she stumbles upon an old roller coaster cart that delivers her to her own Wonder Land amusement park, which has miraculously come to life. However, her help is badly needed there, because her stuffed animal friends are in dire straits!

The interfaces that “Wonder Park” has with other films are almost impossible to count. That in itself is not a disaster, as long as the effect is good. And the film only partially succeeds. Certain finds, such as the hundreds of zombie-turned-merchandise plush toys that want to take over the park, are very successful and even somewhat original. But where Pixar dares at times to stop for a moment, take a moment of rest because of the emotional impact, “Wonder Park” flies off the bend once we arrive at the magical amusement park. Due to the fast pace at which events there follow, we lose count (and therefore the involvement in the story). In itself, that spectacle is not boring to watch, especially for young viewers. They enjoy the color splendor, the speed, the crazy adventures and the cheerful characters all the more. But the seasoned film viewer nowadays is looking for more than just plain entertainment: we want to be touched, to sympathize, to feel emotionally involved. Color splendor and a fast pace usually only distract from this. Wonder tries here and there, but doesn’t persist. The result is that you had quite a nice viewing experience, but also quickly forgot about the film. The ham raag is of course here: had the run-up to this film not been so turbulent, would that have resulted in a better film? To ask the question is to answer it.

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