Review of 'Wonka'

wonka.jpg Telling the story of how Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) became the famous chocolatier we see how the talented Wonka, out of money, takes up the offer of accommodation for the low price of one silver coin which he can pay later. Recklessly signing a lengthy contract, which he does not read, he discovers he owes the landlords considerably more than one silver coin and is pressed into a life of service in a laundry. In the laundry he befriends Noodle (Calah Lane) who admits she has never had chocolate which Wonka is only too willing to offer her. With the help of the others in the laundry to help make Wonka's dream of opening a story a reality. However, they had not counted on another obstacle - A trio of traditional chocolatiers (Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Matthew Baynton) who want nothing more than to see Willy fail and with the chief of police (Keegan-Michael Key) bribed by copious amounts of chocolate it looks like this might well happen. Will he be able to share his wonderful chocolate with the world or will he spend the rest of his life washing clothes?

I did not expect this to be a musical, or, at least, have so many musical numbers but that is OK, it is a huge bit of fun. There are some dark themes here but throughout Timothée Chalamet as Wonka keeps a smile on his face and a relentless (perhaps TOO relentless) sense of optimism. Generally he is the only, literally, colourful character here. As far as providing a back story is concerned, we don't get a huge amount of that with the film focusing instead on Wonka's efforts in opening his first shop to (altruistically?) share his chocolate delights with the world. Interestingly we never really see him making these delights yet he seems to have a never-ending supply of them to hand. However, with the intended audience supposedly children this can probably be overlooked. I did find the juxtaposition between Wonka's relentless optimism and the unrelenting bleakness of his surroundings often a bit too much to take…

The role of “Oompa Loompa” here goes to Hugh Grant which was criticized as it did not go to a person of “short stature” though he is quite amusing here with his smart aleck comments and energy (and green pallor). Grant's uptight acting and demeanour I think perfectly suits this.

The music is quite good though no where near as catchy as “Come with Me” from the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” staring Gene Wilder which they use here towards the end of the film but in quite a different context than was originally intended.

A film with huge contrasts between Wonka and the world he inhabits that jars quite a lot but if you suspend this disbelief it is an enjoyable film.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2024-05-11

Directed by: Paul King

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2023

Length: 116 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Other reviewed films by Paul King: