In the picture

April 28, 2019

In the picture

Wonder Park**

*ing (voices): Brianna Denski, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Jennifer Garner, and Matthew Broderick

Directed by Dylan Brown (uncredited)

Tagline: Take a ride on the wild side.

Wonder Park is the story of a magical amusement park, a park that you’d reasonably assume would be called "Wonder Park" but is instead, for no discernible reason, called "Wonderland" and that should give you a fairly accurate idea of the level of care and precision that has gone into the creation of this damp squib of a movie.

The animated episode - which is set to spawn a television series on Nickelodeon - tells the story of a girl, June Bailey (voiced by Brianna Denski), who is meant to be characterised by her imaginativeness but can more accurately be described as reckless. With the help of her mother (Jennifer Garner), she creates an imaginary amusement park, but gives up on the project when her sick mom leaves for medical treatment.

After ditching math camp so that she can return home and take care of her father (Matthew Broderick), June wanders into the woods where she finds out that Wonderland has come to life and is now broken down because of her neglect. She must then figure out how to conquer the Darkness that has caused the dilapidation and save the park and all its animal inhabitants.

What could have been a fun movie is instead a joyless, chaotic mess. There isn’t a single element of this production that truly impresses. The film seems to use commotion to distract you from the fact that it doesn’t have much of a storyline. The visuals are colourful but the character designs are subpar. The voice acting is unexciting; the only standout is the vivacious John Oliver who voices a porcupine, but then again he just sounds like John Oliver and makes you wish animated projects would hire proper voice actors instead of celebrities.

Seemingly helmed by no one - the uncredited Dylan Brown was fired from what would have been his directorial debut because of complaints of inappropriate behaviour - this unfortunate production has ended up disjointed and hectic, trying to deliver an emotional punch but losing itself along the way. Wonder Park wants to leave viewers with a positive message, but the journey that gets us there is just an unexciting, frenetic, predictable slog.


Isn’t It Romantic**

*ing: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam DeVine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin, and Brandon Scott Jones

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Tagline: None of the feels.

A woman finds herself stuck in a universe filled with romantic comedy cliches in Isn’t It Romantic, a film that supposedly aims to lampoon the rom-com genre but doesn’t quite hit the mark. The movie tells the story of Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson, an architect who lacks self-confidence and assertiveness, and is oblivious to the romantic advances of her friend, Josh (Adam DeVine). While fighting off a mugger, Natalie hits her head and is knocked unconscious. Upon waking up, she soon realizes that she is stuck in a PG-13 romantic comedy. Her tiny apartment is transformed into a perfect penthouse. A client who was previously rude and dismissive towards her, Blake (Liam Hemsworth), is now enamoured with her, while her friend and assistant, Whitney (Betty Gilpin), is now her foe. And Josh is now in a relationship with a swimsuit model and "yoga ambassador", Isabella (Priyanka Chopra).

As she tries to figure out what she has to do to return to her own reality, she is led towards an important lesson. But it’s a lesson that you, the viewer, will be able to see coming from the very beginning. Isn’t It Romantic is as predictable as the genre it is trying to parody. It basically feels like the film can’t decide whether it wants to criticise rom-coms or just be one. Instead of making fun of the tropes, the movie simply gives in to them, pretty much defeating the whole point of its very existence.

The film - which appears to follow in the footsteps of 2018’s disappointing I Feel Pretty - takes what could have been an interesting idea and then squanders it with a very underwhelming execution. A good satire requires the smarts that this movie lacks. For a film like this to work, it has to be brave enough to subvert cliches, not just list them, roll its proverbial eyes, and then obediently follow them.

As for the acting, Wilson is charming in the lead role, but overall, the unexceptional cast can’t elevate the mediocre material they’re working with. The attempts at humour mostly fall flat.

Isn’t It Romantic fails to make the most of what could have been a fun premise. The movie is likely to best please fans of rom-coms who want a simple, feel-good tale, while those looking for something more interesting will find this dull, familiar, forgettable tale quite disappointing.


Rating system:  *Not on your life  * ½ If you really must waste your time  ** Hardly worth the bother  ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only  *** Good enough for a look see  *** ½ Recommended viewing  **** Don’t miss it  **** ½ Almost perfect  ***** Perfection

In the picture