Saturday 13 February 2021

Movie Review: WILLY'S WONDERLAND (2021)


Well, this was fun! I've been excited for this movie since seeing the trailer a few weeks ago, and I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed.

Spoilers ahead.

Willy's Wonderland starts with Nicolas Cage driving fast down a road off the beaten track. After running over some spikes, his wheel is popped, and he finds himself being rescued by a dude with a pick-up truck who takes him and his car to his garage. Unfortunately, the tow fee and the repair come to a thousand dollars. There is no internet and the cash machine is out of order, so there's no way he can pay. However, he is given the chance to "work off the debt" by spending the night as a janitor at the abandoned 'fun centre', Willy's Wonderland, to clean the place up ready for re-opening. What Nicolas Cage's character doesn't realise is that Willy's Wonderland was founded by a serial killer, and he, along with several of his serial killer mates, murdered a number of families there. To top off this ridiculous back-story, the serial killers, to avoid arrest, took part in a satanic suicide ritual and put their souls into the mechanical creatures at the centre. 

After several local murders are committed by a giant electronic weasel, law enforcement put two and two together, and come to a deal with it. If he stays in the park, they will feed him. So, basically, Nicolas Cage's accident is a set-up, and he's mean to to be a sacrifice. Unfortunately, they didn't realise that he's Nicolas Motherfucking Cage!

If you were after a film that isn't utterly ludicrous and not riddled with plot-holes, you've come to the wrong place. The film is a little slow at the beginning, and this isn't helped by the fact that Nicolas Cage's character doesn't utter a single word throughout the movie. We get a few grunts and nods, no back-story, but some cool fight scenes. Maybe they didn't have to pay him as much if there was no dialogue?

All of this silliness is entwined with the story of a young girl who, along with her friends, decide to burn Willy's Wonderland to the ground. They stop because they see Nicolas Cage in there, and at least a couple of the group think that it would be wrong to burn a stranger alive in the building. As they try to get him out, they fall through the roof and find themselves trapped in there too. Now we have annoying teenagers ready to be killed in hilarious ways by giant robot creatures that look like they're from Sesame Street! At this point, the movie steps its game up. 

After a night of murder and mayhem, Nicolas Cage and the one surviving girl leave the building in a moment that seems like a cheeky nod to 'From Dusk Til Dawn'. Despite fighting for his life several times, he had managed to clean up the place as agreed. 

I'd say Willy's Wonderland has a lot in common with the Banana Splits (read my review here), which, to be fair, is a much better movie. I think most of the budget on this one went on Nicolas Cage. The violence was to a rewarding level, but I think that a little more creativity and brutality in the death scenes would have elevated the film significantly. 

Having said that, Willy's Wonderland does have enough gore, humour, and memorable moments to be considered both a success and potentially a cult classic. 


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