Wonka film review: 'Relentlessly wacky and over the top' – BBC.com

By Nicholas BarberOptions correspondent

Warner Bros Timothee Chalamet in WonkaWarner Bros
Timothee Chalamet in Wonka (Credit score: Warner Bros)

Timothée Chalamet stars in a brand new prequel from the makers of Paddington 2 that explores Willy Wonka’s early years. It is a severely candy deal with that’s ‘straining at each sinew’ to be the very best household leisure, writes Nicholas Barber.

Not many people have ever puzzled in regards to the backstory of Willy Wonka, the wizard-like confectioner from Roald Dahl’s traditional 1964 youngsters’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Manufacturing facility. However, the movie trade being what it’s, a big-screen prequel was as inevitable as Violet Beauregarde’s resolution to attempt the forbidden chewing gum. And so, simply in time for Christmas, we now have Wonka: an unlucky title, however what else have been they going to name it?

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The excellent news is that the movie is directed by Paul King, co-written by King and Simon Farnaby, and produced by David Heyman, ie, the crew behind Paddington 2. Having made the most effective youngsters’s movies of current instances – all proper, the most effective movies of current instances, youngsters’s or in any other case – they have been granted the chance, and the funds, to do no matter they wished with Willy Wonka, and so they did not maintain again.

Anybody with out a severely candy tooth could really feel queasy earlier than the tip

The plain route would have been to recount how Willy constructed his manufacturing facility and persuaded the Oompa-Loompas to workers it, however King and Farnaby have veered off in a course all of their very own. Of their palms, Wonka is the story of how the starry-eyed younger Willy (Timothée Chalamet) tries to arrange a chocolate store in a fictional metropolis (form of British, form of American, form of mainland European) in a fictional time interval (form of Victorian, form of mid-Twentieth Century). However his efforts are opposed by Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton), the three businessmen talked about in Dahl’s novel because the rival sweet-makers who stole Wonka’s recipes. The movie’s funniest characters, because of the actors’ gleeful mispronunciation of half of their dialogue, these three slimy snobs bribe a chocoholic police chief (Keegan-Michael Key in a fats go well with) to kick the interloper out of city.


However that is not all. A exceptional share of the operating time is taken up by Willy being compelled to work in a launderette by two Dickensian grotesques performed by Tom Davis and Olivia Colman (who, judging by her efficiency right here, ought to actually have been forged as Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical). There are additionally subplots by which Willy has to study to learn, borrow a giraffe from a zoo, discover the mother and father of his streetwise sidekick Noodles (Calah Lane), and break into the villains’ lair, which occurs to be straight beneath a cathedral. All of those hijinks are heightened by the brightly colored stripy costumes, the Heath-Robinson innovations, oodles of Dahl-esque wordplay, and a variety of intelligent Berlin cabaret numbers and Broadway present tunes by Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy. There’s additionally a beneficiant serving to of syrupy sentimentality. Between this and his two Paddingtons, it is clear that King likes his movies to be extra twee than their supply novels, so anybody with out a severely candy tooth could really feel queasy earlier than the tip.

Total, then, Wonka appears to be straining each sinew to be the very best household leisure at cinemas this Christmas. It throws in every thing, kitchen sink included. However what it does not have is one sturdy, gripping plot to construct momentum and lift the heartbeat fee. It does not persuade you that Willy’s again story ever wanted to be informed. Slotting collectively bits from Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd, Oliver Twist, and extra in addition to, it is much less like a finely crafted chocolate gateau than a kind of choice bins that comprises a number of brand-name chocolate bars, all wrapped in garish plastic packaging. Because it drifts backwards and forwards between the launderette and town sq., between the current day and mawkish flashbacks to the previous, it does not fairly get going. And it retains you ready for a second that may make you gasp or chuckle out loud, as a lot of Paddington 2 did. Chalamet, as gifted as he’s, is neither a fantastic singer nor a fantastic comic, and he hasn’t labored out how one can make Willy something past a gurning goofball. It is a reduction when Hugh Grant reveals up as a snooty, orange-faced Oompa-Loompa known as Lofty, however beware, it is a cameo look which incorporates treasured few scenes that are not within the trailer.


Director: Paul King

Forged: Timothée Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Olivia Colman

Run time: 1hr 56m

Launch date: 8 December UK, 15 December US

One side of the movie which stops it being extra pleasurable is that it’s set in “a world of pure creativeness”, because the music from the 1971 movie goes. Dahl’s novel bristled with the writer’s annoyance on the nuisances of up to date life, and even Paddington 2 was involved with the injustices of contemporary Britain. However simply as one scene has Willy being carried over town by a bunch of helium balloons, the movie ignores the gravitational pull of actuality. Relentlessly wacky and over-the-top, every thing in it’s too contrived to care about.

Oddly sufficient, that even applies to Willy’s creations, which look extra like toys than sweets, and which have so many magical properties that their flavour appears irrelevant. It is a small level, maybe, however there needs to be one thing flawed with a movie in regards to the world’s greatest chocolate maker if it does not go away you with a craving to scoff some chocolate.


Wonka is launched on 8 December within the UK and 15 December within the US

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