WILLY’S WONDERLAND – Review
By Marc Butterfield
According to the official synopsis: A quiet loner (Nicolas Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. But this wonderland has a dark secret that this “Janitor” is about to discover. He soon finds himself locked in an epic battle with possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls. To survive, he must fight his way through each of them.
As synopsis’ go, this one is complete. Director Kevin Lewis’s movie opens with a frenetic cut of a couple running for their lives, apparently trapped in Willy’s, you never see what is chasing them or why, but you know that this was the end for them. Forward to Nick Cage, being Nick Cage, driving a fast, shiny new car, drinking his soda/energy drink (which he does throughout the movie as if it’s his job in life, in specific intervals, no explanation given) until he drives over some police road-spikes, because…of course he does, at which time, a happy, helpful tow truck driver comes along to get him. Almost on queue. Better than “almost” in fact. It’s a happy coincidence, since Cage A) doesn’t seem to own anything higher tech than a watch with an alarm setting to notify him that it’s time for more Monster Energy (not the actual drink, but boy did they miss a great product placement here) and B) Cage’s character (no name given) is apparently mute. Other than the occasional angry snarl or outraged unintelligible roar. No sarcasm here, that’s the truth from beginning to end of the movie.
The set-up is then given by said tow truck driver, that he can fix the four destroyed tires and other extraneous damage (although in a town that small, I doubt anyone could get those four premium tires overnight, much less the only mechanic in Lick-spittle, KY), and it can all be done for a mere one thousand dollars. I really doubt that those tires could have been replaced for twice that, but hey, in this place, logic and reality have no real bearing anyway, then explaining that since Cage has no cash, and they don’t accept credit cards, and there are no ATMs. Fortunately, there IS a gentleman in town who can pay for all of this for the paltry price of one nights good, hard labor at the titular “Willy’s Wonderland”, a happy children’s amusement restaurant that just needs a good clean up.
Be assured, there are very few explanations, and just the tiniest smidge of exposition about why this adult version of “Five Nights At Freddies” is even taking place.
It is more than a little fun to watch Cage wail on a rip-off character from Chuck-E-Cheese like a drunken uncle at the kiddies party with all of the insane gusto of, well, Nick Cage in nearly every other movie he’s ever been in. If you are a Cage fan, this movie is violent chicken soup for the soul. The teen interest section seems a little contrived, as you never really get vested in any of the kids that don’t seem to be there for any reason other than to be an example of what a body count will be, and the line stolen from “Watchmen” is almost funny. Almost.
It might have been genuinely hilarious if Cage’s character weren’t so bereft of backstory or explanation, because otherwise it just seems stolen. However, if you meet any of the aforementioned criteria, you may find WILLY’S WONDERLAND to be a fun experience, so have a few laughs with this weekend popcorn movie.
2 Out of 4
Available everywhere On Demand HERE