There is a rare breed of film fan who unironically loves Nicolas Cage. I have counted myself among them for years (Cage is my most-watched actor of all-time, after all) and let me be the first to say: Willy’s Wonderland is unreservedly for my Cage-loving people.
The synopsis is simply as follows: Nicolas Cage plays a wordless drifter conned into taking an overnight janitorial job at the derelict and haunted Willy’s Wonderland-themed restaurant, where he faces off against demonically-possessed mascots.
You read that right. Demonically-possessed mascots. Don’t tell me you’re not on board.
This isn’t one of those roles where he aims to prove he is still an Oscar-winning thespian, but instead, is a wildly fun ride full of pure Cage chaos. Willy’s Wonderland delivers exactly what everyone who presses “play” came to see: Nicolas Cage beating the sh*t out of animatronic mascots. Additionally, the themed restaurant is less Chuck E. Cheese and more The Simpson’s Wall E. Weasel’s. Silly and ridiculous, the film adds to the fun by throwing down some serious 1980s’ horror vibes. If anything, Willy’s Wonderland leaves you wanting more because the movie feels oddly restrained at times. This was the chance for them to go big, bloody and dumb but instead, they come up just a tad short.
Even though he doesn’t utter a word throughout the entire film, Cage steals the focus each time he’s on screen. He’s cool, mysterious, and dangerous and he most certainly knows it. There is something oddly Marie Kondo-level satisfying about watching Cage clean the years of grime and crime from the restaurant in between taking out puppet players.
Sure, the film has its faults. The weak teenage supporting cast doesn’t stand a chance when opposite the maestro. One stand-out here is the great character actor Beth Grant, who easily slides into the role of the small-town sheriff who keeps an eye on the strange happenings at Willy’s.
While it might not stack up against cult Cage favourites like Wicker Man and it lacks the zany one-liners of a Bad Lieutenant—Port of Call: New Orleans, it is still bloody leaps and bounds ahead of some of the actor’s more recent straight-to-Netflix fare.
Wildly entertaining and coming in at under 90 minutes, Willy’s Wonderland is a bit of mindless entertainment. Plus you get to see Nicolas Cage fight a possessed alligator mascot with a mop. What more could you possibly ask for?
Willy’s Wonderland arrives on digital platforms in Canada on April 13.