Review by Adam Donato
Nicolas Cage is one of the most iconic actors of this generation. A man who can go toe to toe with Jim Carrey or Sam Elliot in their prime. Now that is range. Despite being such a prolific personality in Hollywood, Cage’s good movies are few and far between. That being said, the “so bad that it’s good” community probably has Cage on their Mount Rushmore next to Tommy Wiseau and Michael Jordan. The newest entry in the collection of insane Nic Cage movies is Willy’s Wonderland, a movie about a man burdened with the task of staying the night in a run-down children’s entertainment establishment.
Willy’s Wonderland is directed by Kevin Lewis and written by first-time writer G.O. Parsons. What a goofy idea that was just executed so well. It’s a whole lot of fun and even has some legitimately scary things in it. The question is whether the viewer is into animatronics, just like how someone who is afraid of clowns is inclined to believe It is the scariest horror movie. Most of the creature designs are inspired, going for that post-apocalyptic Chuck E. Cheese vibe. Just seeing them on screen and maybe even move a little, one can’t help but to wonder what the robot looks like without the costume. It’s creepy imagery and it succeeds on the horror front.
Imagine how different Drive would be if Keanu Reeves played the lead instead of Ryan Gosling. That’s what it’s like watching Nic Cage in this movie. A softspoken badass that isn’t even given a name. They have him listed in the credits as “the janitor”, which to be fair, is an absolutely correct statement. There is so much cleaning in the movie. It’s somewhat satisfying seeing the turnaround of the place. For some reason, Cage frequently plays pinball in a degree of passion that is unprecedented. It’s not art, it’s more like Johnny Blaze eating a jelly bean martini in Ghost Rider. To be fair, that’s where the movie really shines.
There’s a group of teens that are somehow involved in the action. They basically act of the horror movie fodder destined to die at the hands of the killer. Classic stereotypes like the lustful couple sneaking off and the resilient final girl. To be honest, they play well off of Cage, which makes Cage look even better. The side characters add so much backstory to everything that is going on, which makes it an actual movie, as opposed to an elongated set of action scenes, cleaning, and pinball.
For what it is, Willy’s Wonderland delivers. It’s a classic movie to watch with a big group of friends and play along with it. It’s a B-movie, but it’s a really good one at that. There’s impressionably scary imagery, both legitimate and ironic laughs, and a crazy concept that lets it get away with being such a ridiculous movie. Their hook is pretty undeniable. It’s Nicolas Cage fighting a bunch of animatronic children’s characters.
Willy's Wonderland is now in theaters and on VOD.