Wonka Review

Just to be honest, Gene Wilder is my Willy Wonka. I grew up watching him perform this role and always loved watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory whenever it was on the television. While he will always be my Wonka I know that people might enjoy the other version of Wonka and that is ok. I was hesitant at first to see this new iteration of Willy Wonka and I walked out of the theater pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Let me tell you why.

First off, this is a prequel to the Wonka movies. In this movie, we see a young Wonka coming to the world hoping to sell his chocolate at the Galeries Gourmet and show people why his chocolate is the best in the world. Although his aspirations are big, there are a few people who will do all they can to stop Willy from selling his chocolates. Willy has to compete with Slugworth, Prodnose, and Fickelgruber for a chance to have a shop and sell his chocolates.

Now while the movie could have been a simple origin story, we see the adversity that Wonka had to face in this town. Wonka is very happy-go-lucky and charming and not the hardened older man that we see in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Even though Willy is swindled, robbed of his chocolates, nearly drowned, and almost killed, his demeanor does not change and he still has a dream of opening a shop. Now the shop is important to him not only to share his chocolate with the world but also for another reason that is dear to his heart.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Whereas in the 1971 movie, we don’t get much of a backstory on Wonka, we only get snippets from some of the stories he tells. In this version, we see Wonka as a child sailing the seas together with his mother, played by Sally Hawkins. We see how his mother makes delicious chocolate for them on the boat and here is where his love of chocolate begins. Everything he knows about chocolate he has learned to make the perfect chocolate like the ones his mother made for them. Willy also hopes that sharing his chocolate with the world will fulfill a promise that was made years ago when he was a child.

The cast of characters this time around are not as memorable as the kids from the original movie but they have their moments to shine. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Wonka meets a crew of people who meet a similar fate to him by a pair known as Scrubitt and Bleacher. Willy and the crew work together to get out of their situation and help Willy open his shop.

Now Willy is the heart of the movie but the soul is captured by Calah Lane, who plays Noodle. Noodle is also a victim of Scrubitt and Bleacher and helps Willy learn in ways that he did not expect. Noodle gives Willy an out to sell his chocolates and slowly tries to win the freedom of himself and his friends. Noodle benefits by gaining a family that she did not know she had and being partners with Willy on his chocolate endeavors.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Now I did state that Chalamet is charming in this movie but I do have to mention that his singing and dancing are fantastic here. From the first song to the final song, he captures the audience and shows why he was perfectly cast as the young Wonka. He plays him with charm and optimism that makes you wonder what happened to him to become the man he is in the 1971 version. There are a few subplots about liniage and mafias that help move the movie along but it’s best that you experience those plots while watching the movie.

Final Thoughts: Wonka is a pleasant surprise and is a fantastic prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Family. Seeing how Willy Wonka came to be is an interesting take and it’s done in a way that pays homage to the original movie. The songs are catchy and listening to Pure Imagination hits a little different this time around. Timothée Chalamet has a certain charm about him that makes him a fun Wonka to watch and care about.

Kid-Friendly: From the opening song to the final bonus credits scenes, the movie is great for families to watch. I will say that children 7 and older might be the perfect demographic for the movie because younger kids might not understand the “Chocolate Mafia” angle.

Violence: There are a few scenes of the chief of police assaulting Willy and a moment of attempted assault. There is also talk by the “Chocolate Mafia” regarding killing off competition.

From the creators of “Paddington” and the “Harry Potter” films comes “Wonka,” an intoxicating mix of magic and music, mayhem and emotion, all told with fabulous heart and humor. Starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, this irresistibly vivid and inventive big screen spectacle introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, chock-full of ideas and determined to change the world one delectable bite at a time. “Wonka” proves that the best things in life begin with a dream, and if you’re lucky enough to meet Willy Wonka, anything is possible.

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