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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