Willy’s Wonderland Parent Guide
This film is fully committed to the utter insanity of its premise and runs with it.
Parent Movie Review
Hayesville, Nevada, is about as sleepy as sleepy little towns can get. But when a man (Nic Cage) blows all four of his tires coming into town, he finds himself in trouble. The mechanic, Jed (Chris Warner) only takes cash, and with the only ATM out of service, the man agrees to work off the repairs by cleaning up a disused children’s play place (think Chuck E. Cheese, but creepier). Little does he know that the reason the building is in such bad repair is that the animatronic characters have this unsettling penchant for coming to life and devouring unwilling visitors… but I’m not sure that would stop him.
My first thought when I heard of this movie was the well known Five Nights at Freddy’s video game franchise, which basically shares the same premise. Players are responsible for maintaining a “Freddy Fasbear’s Pizza” location while surviving the hostile animatronics. Thankfully, that is where the resemblance ends. Willy’s Wonderland is far more committed to the utter insanity of that premise, and runs with it to a wonderful degree. But before you get too excited, remember that this is a Nic Cage movie – and all that entails. I’m the same lunatic who once watched 10 Nic Cage movies over a weekend: if you don’t think you could survive that experience, this may not be for you.
Ok, before I start gushing about this movie I’m going to have to break the bad news. This is hugely unsuitable for younger (and saner) audiences for a lot of reasons. There’s the gory violence, the teen sex and drug use, and the heavy (although lighter than expected) profanity. And that’s all without mentioning the Satanic suicide ritual or the child murder, any of which would push this movie firmly into a Restricted rating. In short, poor choice for family movie night – or, frankly, for a date with anyone who isn’t a fan of dark, creepy horror movies. But even the darkest cloud has a silver lining…in this case, your friend and mine, actor Nicolas Cage.
Nic Cage is a triumph in his completely non-verbal role. He has achieved maximum Cage, that signature blend of set-chewing, bizarre character choices, and generalized madness. I can’t recall a film I’ve enjoyed more lately, and at no point in the 88 minute runtime did I manage to scrape up a coherent thought. This isn’t a movie you sit and watch and think about. It’s more like strapping yourself to the front of a rickety roller-coaster at a defunct theme park and screaming throughout the ride. I can’t recommend it highly enough for fans of the genre. I couldn’t have predicted anything about this movie. Willy’s Wonderland is a real breath of fresh air…or, at least, a breath of that mix of disinfectant, kid sweat, and greasy food that typifies children’s play places. Close enough for me.Directed by Kevin Lewis. Starring Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant. Running time: 82 minutes. Theatrical release February 12, 2021. Updated February 12, 2021
Rating & Content Info
Why is Willy’s Wonderland rated Not Rated? Willy’s Wonderland is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: A number of semi-living animatronics are killed by being beaten to death, dismembered, decapitated, curb-stomped, and blown up. Humans, including children, are killed by being bitten, crushed, decapitated, bisected, eaten alive, stabbed, and blown up. There are depictions of a “Satanic suicide ritual”.
Sexual Content: Two teenagers are seen having sex with no nudity. There are a few brief sexual jokes and references.
Profanity: There are 11 uses of extreme profanity and 19 scatological terms. There are also infrequent mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen smoking cigars. Teen characters are briefly seen smoking marijuana.
Page last updated February 12, 2021
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This is hardly Nicolas Cage’s first foray into the “So Bad It’s Good” genre of film. My personal favorites include The Wicker Man, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, and the recent adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space, although I also really enjoyed Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Face-Off.