But Lacking A Strong Story;
Struggles To Balance.
This is the first time I can remember seeing something without a credited director. Apparently there were issues of harassment and the initial director Dylan Brown was fired early last year, possibly while the film was in post-production. Despite director’s credit being offered to others in the crew, nobody wanted it. Perhaps, after watching, it’s not hard to imagine why.
The animation looks great. Everything is crisp and sharp and beautifully-rendered. But for a movie that teased a whirlwind tour of a child’s imaginary theme park, a lot of what we see is drab, muted and much darker than we would expect. While there is a storyline reason for that, it seems like a bait-and-switch, and I imagine lots of kids will be as thrown by that as I was.
Not to mention the fact that you don’t even get to the park for quite a bit of time into the movie. After a great early action sequence that showcases just how much June (voiced by Brianna Denski) loves to imagine and build, we settle into something that seems to spin its wheels for far too long before we finally get to the park. And once we do? It’s in major disrepair, to say the absolute least. It’s all very uneven.
On a positive note, the voice cast (including Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Jennifer Garner and Keenan Thompson, among others) does a great job bringing their lines to life even when the rides have none. They each try to bring something special to their characters (Oliver succeeds wildly and produces the most memorable character by far) and aeem to have a blast.
There is a message about the power of belief when things get dark (literally), but it doesn’t ring nearly as true as it would with a smarter, sharper script. My kids seemed to enjoy it (certain parts more than others, to be sure), but I couldn’t connect with it nearly as much as other family fare of late.