Dir: Paul King | Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Paterson Joseph, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Matt Lucas, Jim Carter | Musical 112’
Wonka is a charming sugar-coated candy-coloured confection fizzing with fun that reminds us that Christmastide should be a time of goodwill and joie de vivre rather than stress and family contretemps. Charming and hummable it may be but Wonka is an instantly forgettable Christmas crowdpleaser that will blow away with the tinsel once the Christmas decs are back in their boxes.
Graced by a delightful cast: Timothee Chalemet is the standout with his androgynous charm and delicatesse in a surreal turn as the legendary Willy Wonka of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who, according to its creator Roald Dahl, purportedly invented the best chocolate. Of course we all know that’s Cadbury’s – but no one likes to admit it.
Johnny Depp was a big hit in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005, after Mel Stuart delivered the first cinematic sensation with Gene Wilder in the main role in 1971. But rather than opting for another version of Dahl’s 1964 classic book, Warner Bros offers up a prequel original story taking us back to Wonka’s genesis with themes of class warfare and the glass ceiling.
Wonka‘s focus is that dreams can come true and offers inspiration for today’s young entrepreneurs. It goes behind the original story to picture a youngster from modest means whose dreams, ideas and determination will make him an international superstar – aided by his best friend Noodle (Calah Lane). Every bit a story of modern times, it sees Wonka come up against the establishment of chocolatiers whose delicious fare is reserved for the rich.
Nathan Crowley’s set design is magical and Joby Talbot, the composer behind the catchy title music for the BBC’s League of Gentleman, has created a memorable original score. Listen with your eyes shut and there’s nothing captivating about Simon Farnaby and Paul King’s script, despite expectations. So just enjoy the fabulous camerawork and the entertaining cast who bring it all to life despite the messy storyline: Olivia Colman (as Mrs Scrubbit), Hugh Grant (as Oompa Loompa), Rowan Atkinson (as Father Julius) and Peterson Joseph (as Arthur Slugworth) . Wonka is certainly eye-catching but if you’re looking for a more amusing Christmas movie this yuletide, I’d go for Your Christmas or Mine 2. @MeredithTaylor
FROM 8 DECEMBER 2023