Release Date: Feb. 12, 2021 in theaters and on digital/PVOD
Running Time: 89 minutes
If your idea of fun is Nicolas Cage on an energy drink high beating the crap out of possessed animatronics …. Wait, why wouldn’t your idea of fun be Nicolas Cage on an energy drink high beating the crap out of possessed animatronics? In the hilariously self-aware splatter fest Willy’s Wonderland, Cage’s taciturn loner—simply referred to as The Janitor—agrees to spend one night cleaning down a closed Chuck E. Cheese-style restaurant in exchange for four new tires for his shiny new sports car. In between chugging Punch soda and playing pinball during work breaks, Cage fend off attacks by the eight mechanic abominations that have turned Willy’s Wonderland into a slaughterhouse. “I’m gonna feast on your face!” Ozzie the Ostrich declares moments before Cage turns it into a pile of nuts, bolts, and mangy old fur. Cage, a lean, mean fighting machine with zero use for words, barely expresses any surprise or concern that the animatronics—led by Willy the Weasel—are alive and anxious to have him for dinner. Cage seems more pissed off that the animatronics are making more a mess for him to clean up. But this is because Cage is in on the joke director Kevin Lewis and screenwriter G.O. Parsons pull with Willy’s Wonderland. The absurdity of the situation allows all parties to give adorning audiences of the serious-minded exercises in surrealism Mandyand Color Out of Space what they what they want: a true reason to laugh at Cage uncaged. And, given Cage’s recent far-out choices in material, Willy’s Wonderland works for the simple reason that he is 110 percent committed to locking horns with these goofy looking anamorphic robots. Sure, Cage gets some help from the equally game Emily Tosta as a past survivor of Willy Wonderland, but this is his show. And it all leads up to The Janitor’s confrontation with Willy. With Cage setting the tone for the proceedings, Lewis and Parsons find the perfect balance between the wacky humor and the nonstop gore. Cage’s breaktime ritual serves as an amusing prelude to combat, while Lewis ensures his constant use of Willy’s infectious family friendly songs complement the outburst of violence without becoming wearisome. Granted, not everything works in Willy’s Wonderland, especially the obligatory sex scene in the so-called Super Happy Fun Room. Guess how it ends. Of course, Willy’s Wonderland receives a major assist from the flesh-devouring anamorphic robots. Brought to life by energetic in-suit performers, Willy et al. look and behave like typical goofy restaurant attractions that have receive a creepy makeover courtesy of Satan. They are charmingly endearing malevolent creatures, ones that manage to play into and subvert the American family restaurant experience while giving Cage his money’s worth. “It’s your birthday, so let’s party everyone,” goes the Willy’s Wonderland jingle. And, no matter the occasion, Willy knows how to throw a party.
Aired: Feb. 11, 2021