Wonka Review

Reviews Films




While only read about in the books and seen in the movies, the wonderfully weird Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory rivalled Disneyland as the most magical place for kids, full of imagination, and most importantly, confectionary.

Everlasting gobstoppers, lickable wallpaper, three course dinner gum, a chocolate river and more; it’s easy to understand why the franchise in both mediums became wildly popular for several generations.

Now we go back to find out how it all came to be with Paul King’s Wonka.

Willy Wonka (Timothee Chalamet) is young and poor but has huge hopes, dreams, and a touch of magic.

He arrives in the big smoke with only a handful of cash and personal belongings to open a shop to sell his range of chocolate treats.

But he is not prepared for how much the city and most of its inhabitants are intent on killing his ambitions.

Down to his last coin, Wonka takes shelter with Mrs Scrubbit (Olivia Coleman), who locks him into a contract that leaves him thousands in her debt – which he must pay off by working in her basement laundry.

Then any attempts to launch his chocolate shop are thwarted by three corrupt upper crust chocolatiers (Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Mathew Baynton) who corner the market with their watered-down wares and dodgy dealings with police and a priest (Rowan Atkinson).

Wonka is not as nasty towards its characters as the Gene Wilder classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was (in fact, this iteration is sympathetic towards children), but it is also not completely sugar-coated.

Writer/director Paul King (who made the charming Paddington films) leaves a degree of edge, grit and tough lesson learning along with the engaging imagination and delightful whimsy.

There is plenty to sweeten the tooth with a bright and clever script that injects much more story, character development and thought than most cynical studio cash grab origin stories.

But there is also enough food for thought in the way of its themes around dream-killing corruption, chocolate as an addictive commodity, and the wedge between the rich and the poor (created and maintained by the rich).

Hoity toity Baynton’s gag reflex at the mere mention of the word “poor” is a hilarious running joke yet damning for the particular class of people he represents.

Chalamet delivers a likeable Wonka, with a voice string enough to carry the musical elements, but he leads an incredibly strong cast of seasoned actors and comedians. Coleman is, as usual, a reliable standout.

While Wonka the film does plant the occasional seed for why Wonka the character is portrayed the way he is in the 1971 classic, there are still some gaps left to fill.

Perhaps we may see those gaps bridged if audiences become as addicted to this film as they do to chocolate. 7 out of 10