Wonder Park Parent Guide
A sweet, whimsical film about the power of imagination and creativity that is suitable for the whole family.
Parent Movie Review
June (Brianna Denski) and her mother (Jennifer Garner) have a fantastic game: they’re building an imaginary amusement park! June dreams up the rides and attractions for Wonder Park, along with a cute cast of animals who staff the park, and her mother makes them real by whispering them into Peanut’s ear, a stuffed chimpanzee who brings them to life with his magic marker. At least, that’s how it works in June’s imagination. Really, she and her family spend hours working together to build functioning models of the rides in their home. However, when June’s mom gets sick and has to go to a distant hospital for a little while, June packs up the park and spends her time worrying about everything from her mother to the tripping hazard posed by loose golf balls. Even her good friend Banky (Oev Michael Urbas) can’t snap her out of it. But when she finds the real park gates hidden in the forest, June realizes that abandoning Wonder Park has had consequences that reach further than she anticipated…
This is definitely a movie geared at young kids, and the ones at the showing I attended certainly seemed to be having a great time, with lots of laughter and even a few little gasps throughout. Parents might have a little less to chew on, but the movie is so heartfelt and sincere that it doesn’t feel like much of a slog (helped by the fact that the runtime is under an hour and a half). John Oliver’s character, Steve, a neurotic porcupine, is probably the biggest attempt to appeal to an older audience with his use of more complex words and admittedly entertaining peculiarities.
The animation is pretty, but nothing you haven’t seen before from bigger animation studios like Disney or Pixar. Where this film stands out is in its voice acting, which is very well done and has a surprisingly impressive cast. As I mentioned before, John Oliver stands out as doing an excellent job, but Brianna Denski and Oev Michael Urbas also do some really good work, especially for such young performers.
In all honesty, I’m very surprised that this film didn’t earn a “G” rating from the MPAA. Despite its PG rating, Wonder Park is far and away the single most family friendly film I have ever reviewed. Not only does the film lack offensive content, it actively promotes strong messages about friendship and teamwork, as well as the importance of creativity and the seriousness of mental illness. An added bonus is its focus on childhood anxiety, which will make it a welcome tool for parents trying to help their fretting children. The only things parents need to worry about is the strong likelihood that their kids will beg for trips to Disneyland or any other local amusement park. But given that Wonder Park provides a good time for the whole family, that’s a risk worth taking.Directed by Robert Iscove. Starring Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Ken Hudson Campbell. Running time: 85 minutes. Theatrical release March 15, 2019. Updated March 16, 2020
Watch the trailer for Wonder Park
Rating & Content Info
Why is Wonder Park rated PG? Wonder Park is rated PG by the MPAA for some mild thematic elements and action
Violence: Exceptionally mild cartoon violence and peril throughout. One character unintentionally puts their hand down on a porcupine quill.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: None. Characters don’t even call each other names.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated March 16, 2020
Wonder Park Parents' Guide
When June begins to worry about her mother, her creativity gets put aside. How can we try to keep up with our interests even if we feel depressed or anxious? How do you think we could help friends who might be going through a similar problem?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Trying to find a way to talk about depression with a child? Lloyd Jones’ The Princess and the Fog is geared at kids in early elementary school who are living with depression or with a depressed family member. Using gentle humor and simple language, Jones helps bring this difficult mental health issue down to a level that can be understood by kids.
Also for youngsters is Whimsy’s Heavy Things, by Julie Kraulis. This picture book shows Whimsy’s attempts to hide her problems until she finally decides to deal with them.
Anxiety is a growing problem for children. If you’re looking practical tools to help an anxious child, try Dawn Huebner’s What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety.
Psychologist Karen Young’s Hey Warrior teaches kids the physical and emotional symptoms that come with anxiety.
A charming take on this topic is How Big Are Your Worries, Little Bear? Written by Jayneen Sanders and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, this picture book shows that worries can be overcome with a willingness to share.
For fictional stories that show kids overcoming anxiety, head straight for Julia Cook’s Wilma Jean the Worry Machine. Written by a school counselor, this book offers strategies for coping with anxiety. An activity book is also available.
When Worry Takes Hold follows Maya, after worry crawls into her mind and won’t leave. Written by Liz Haske and illustrated by InSong Nam, this helpful book teaches kids ways to calm themselves.
Imagination can be a powerful tool for youngsters trying to look beyond difficult times. Later elementary school readers will also enjoy A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This Victorian-era novel tells the story of Sara, forced into servitude by her father’s death and apparent bankruptcy. But Sara has an imagination and it gives her the ability to rise above her circumstances. Also blessed with an imagination is Anne Shirley, heroine of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. This novel has challenging vocabulary and can be read by tweens but younger kids will enjoy having it read to them.
Anyone looking for a book about friendship and loss for an older child can turn to Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. (This book might be a bit intense for sensitive kids.)
The most recent home video release of Wonder Park movie is June 18, 2019. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
Pixar’s Inside Out goes inside a girl’s head to explain her turbulent emotions.
An overprogrammed little girl learns to embrace a wider world in The Little Prince.
Ratatouille, also by Pixar, shows how a rat embraces his creativity despite all the obstacles in his way.
In Sing, a motley collection of animals come together in a singing contest to achieve their dreams and wind up changing lives.Hugo tells the story of an orphan who meets an embittered toy maker and helps him rediscover the joy of his creative past.