It dawned on me while watching Willy’s Wonderland that Nic Cage has become this generations William Shatner – he has become a parody of the very acting style that made him famous and in case you’re wondering – that’s not a particularly good thing.
You can probably already guess where this review is heading but – let’s dive in and hash this out, shall we? Let’s spend some time at Willy’s Wonderland.
The premise is short and sweet – while driving his souped up 70’s style muscle car around the back roads of “who-gives-a-shit” rural America, the always scowling and silent Nic Cage suffers some extensive car damage and is offered the chance to work off the rather hefty repair bill by cleaning up a long deserted kiddie playhouse called Willy’s Wonderland – think a Chuck E. Cheese run by Rob Zombie – not a nice graphic, is it?
We get some pretty lame backstory involving serial killers and evil pacts but long story short – the robotic characters that litter the dark and dirty play land are alive – and they’re hungry. Throw in a group of local teens that are hell bent on burning the place to the ground and the table is set for what should be a robot slaying good time – should be.
What ends up happening is we get treated to a one note song that becomes tired and boring about the third time we hear that note being strummed. Relying heavily on the appeal of Nic Cage – they forget to give Cage anything appealing to do. If you’re going to put Nic Cage in a gonzo, over the top, crazy role then you best let him be gonzo, go way over the top and be as bat shit crazy as he can be. We get none of that – instead we get a rather subdued and boring performance that seems to be Cage trying to be so cool that he is lethargic.
Also – there are some honestly puzzling choices made by director Kevin Lewis that are either so stupid that they make you question why he’s in the chair or – so brilliant that they are way beyond the comprehension of this life long film fan. I can’t decide which way to think – I only know I left the viewing completely confused and totally disappointed.
The appeal of this film is much like Nic Cage’s dialogue in the film – non-existent. Feel free to just drive on by Willy’s Wonderland.