Movie Reviews

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

willys-wonderland-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Kevin Lewis

Genre: Action, Horror, Comedy

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, David Sheftell, Terayle Hill

Plot: Nic Cage (his character is only known as ‘The Janitor’) is driving through a quiet town when his car breaks down. The guy running the local garage agrees to fix his car for free if Nic spends the night cleaning an abandoned family restaurant. Willy’s Wonderland is the name of the place, and unbeknownst to Nic, it’s full of murderous animatronic creatures.

My Thoughts: This movie is straight-up bonkers. Imagine if cinemas were open and you could have gone for a double bill of Willy’s Wonderland and Barb & Star go to Vista Del Mar? I love that two crazy movies were released on the same day. This is the kind of movie I would have been obsessed over as a teenager. I’d be hunting down a Willy’s Wonderland tee as fast as I could…to be honest, I’d kind of like one now.

I feel like we’re due a bit of a Nicolas Cage resurgence, or maybe that’s just me. I found myself watching Next (2007) on Netflix the other week and as stupid as it was, it was a lot of fun. It’s kind of a running theme with his movies, isn’t it? He doesn’t speak a single word in Willy’s Wonderland, just grunts, drinks punch, cleans and kicks ass. The cleaning powers of Mrs Hinch combined with the deadliness of John Wick, that’s what you get here. Having Beth Grant in this movie would have been the perfect excuse to have a character that looked like Frank, the rabbit from Donnie Darko (2001) – what a missed opportunity!

It’s not a clever movie, some things just don’t make sense. You’ve got these animatronic characters with goofy faces somehow able to murder kids in seconds, but that’s kind of the point. You don’t watch it for a clever plot and truly terrifying monsters. You watch it for the laughs, to see Nicolas Cage have to change his shirt for the 5th time because he’s covered in oil again, or having to stop what he’s doing because his watch is beeping and it’s time for another can of punch.

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Best Bit: Those characters were creepy enough when they weren’t cursed but the sight of them now? Combined with the eerie tune of ‘It’s your biiiiirthday, and we want you to have fun’ I was somehow scared and laughing out loud at the same time.

Worst Bit: You know how in some countries, movies get renamed? In the UK, My Life as a Zucchini is called My Life as a Courgette. Makes sense, that’s literally what the vegetable is known as here. Zootopia is Zootropolis, annoying, but it’s to do with a zoo by the same name somewhere in Europe so makes sense in a legal aspect. THIS movie in the UK is Wally’s Wonderland. WHY? Is it because in the UK a willy is a penis? We don’t call that guy who makes chocolates and sweets Wally Wonka? I’m irrationally irritated about it.

Fun Trivia: When the trailer was released, several fans of the extremely popular horror video game Five Nights at Freddy’s (2014), which has a movie version in production from director Chris Columbus, pointed out how the plot for this film is the exact same as Freddy’s: people are attacked by animatronic characters at a Chuck E. Cheese type restaurant.

My Rating: 3 and a half rolls of duct tape which I doubt any medical professional would recommend you use on open wounds.

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Blogathons · Movie Reviews

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: Donnie Darko (2001)

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The wonderful blogging duo Drew (Drew’s Movie Reviews) and Kim (Tranquil Dreams) are back again with the next Blogathon in their Ultimate series. They started with the 80s which I *think* I recall taking part in on my previous blog, then moved to the 90s, giving me the chance to talk about Liar, Liar (1997). Last year they went back further to the 70s and now in 2019 they’re giving us the chance to share our favourite movies from the 00s.

The 2000s is such a difficult decade for me to pick my favourite movie from. I’d finally reached an age in the 00s where I was watching movies for myself, and I’ve seen so many! Once I really made myself choose a single movie however the choice was clear, it had to be Donnie Darko (2001).

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If you’ve been living under a rock since then, Donnie Darko is a fantastically weird Thriller/Sci-Fi movie that demands to be watched at least twice. Teenage me had found herself obsessed with Jake Gyllenhaal, and spent hours on eBay tracking down second-hand copies of his movies, a trend that still very much lives on in me but has been made much easier thanks to the likes of platforms like Netflix. I couldn’t have been older than 14 at the time and I was terrified of the movie, but found it fascinating.

Donnie is a troubled teen with a history of violence. He takes medication but has recently stopped of his own accord. One night he sleepwalks and meets Frank, an eery-looking rabbit who warns him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. That same night, a jet engine crashes into the Darko’s house, destroying Donnie’s bedroom. Had he been home in bed, he would be been killed.

Donnie Darko is the movie that sparked my love and curiosity for dark and weird movies with endings that leave you with more questions than you started with. Donnie himself is a role that only Jake Gyllenhaal could pull off, and he does it so well!

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I haven’t seen it for a few years now, but off the top of my head, these are what I remember to be my favourite things about it:

  • “Oh please tell me Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a f**k?!”
  • Those stoners talking about Smurfette. A conversation I didn’t really appreciate until I was a bit older.
  • Time travel!
  • The moral issue of finding a wallet on the ground. You have to take into account the whole spectrum of human emotion!
  • Donnie throwing shade on Jim Cunningham – it was hilarious.
  • “I made a new friend…”
  • Did I also mention Jake Gyllenhaal’s in it?

It wasn’t until reasonably recently that I learned a sequel was made, S. Darko (2009). A quick search of it on IMDB tells me that it’s currently rated #89 on IMDB’s Bottom Rated Movies list. Ouch. If you know me though, you know you can probably expect to see a review of it on my blog fairly soon. I can’t help myself. Any excuse to watch the original again too, I guess!