Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

willys wonderland poster 2021 movie review
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Cage is always fun, love the idea

So-so story, don't care about the kids

Movie Info

Movie Name: Willy’s Wonderland

Studio: JD Entertainment

Genre(s): Horror/Comedy

Release Date(s): February 12, 2021

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

willys wonderland creatures nic cage

Make your move…punks

A mysterious stranger (Nicolas Cage) has rolled into the quiet town of Hayesville, Nevada only to find himself stranded with four blown tires.  Fortunately, Tex Macadoo (Ric Reitz) has a job that can get the stranger back on the road…a night at Willy’s Wonderland!  Willy’s Wonderland has seen better days and it needs a janitor help clean up.  Locked in, the janitor finds things aren’t quite as they seem at Willy’s.  When a teen named Liv (Emily Tosta) and her friends come to Willy’s, all hell might break loose…and hopefully it won’t interfere with the janitor’s break.

Directed by Kevin Lewis, Willy’s Wonderland is a horror comedy.  Originally intended for a 2020 release, the film was pushed back to 2021 due to COVID and released online after a small theatrical release.

Nicolas Cage is an acquired taste and he has to hit you just right.  While some of his better movies are too over-the-top for me (like The Rock or Face/Off), movies that are intentionally over the top like Mandy or Color Out of Space hit higher for me.  Regardless, Cage always at least makes an average film more interesting…which is the case with Willy’s Wonderland.

willys wonderland siren sarah

She’s right behind me…isn’t she

The story is essentially Five Nights at Freddy’s with animatronic kids’ entertainment coming to life and killing (which was also done in the bizarre Banana Splits big screen adaptation).  Having grown up in the Showbiz Pizza era (which pales in comparison to Chuck E. Cheese), I had this horrifying menace of animatronic creatures.  The problem with Willy’s is that while Cage’s enigmatic stranger is interesting, the teens and other people that populate the movie aren’t interesting.  I just wanted more of Cage fighting monsters.

It is odd to see Cage in an intentionally unexpressive role.  I thought there would be a clever quip at the end or something, but Cage stays silent throughout.  He gets some Nic Cage moments while dancing to his pinball time-out and in general, but a lot of his other characters are louder and crazier.  Emily Tosta tries to be the sidekick character for the movie, but she mostly is just there to bring in people to be killed in dull ways.

willys wonderland pinball nicolas cage dancing

I could watch a whole movie of Nic Cage dancing and playing pinball

The animatronics are fun, but I actually wish they had been more developed.  Since they were possessed by serial killers, I think that there should have been a bit more personality applied to each of the creatures.  Cage never has any problems taking out any of the critters which is kind of part of the joke, but it would have been nice if one of them put up a better fight.

Willy’s Wonderland has a fun concept but poor execution.  It barely rises above something like Full Moon’s Demonic Toys and that is simply because it is slightly more stylish and Nic Cage.  It needs to be completely insane and instead feels moderately crazy…which is pretty amazing considering it is about walking and talking robot animals.  There is talk of a sequel and I might welcome that…especially if it is a little bit better thought out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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