Wonka Image


By Bradley Gibson | December 15, 2023

Wonka feels like what you’d get if Monty Python did a stage production of Annie juxtaposed with Oliver and Mary Poppins with a side of Little Britain. Matt Lucas, star of the latter show, plays one of the villainous chocolate cartel members. Hugh Grant plays the grumpy, put-upon Oompa Loompa. There’s also a giraffe named Abigail, and a chocoholic priest played by Rowan Atkinson, just to name a few of the many fun surprises. It’s an industrial-revolution-inspired campy romp.

For being a fluffy, brightly colored musical, there’s a great deal of detail to take in. It’s no accident that Wonka may require several viewings to catch everything. That’s fine, though, as it is all very agreeable, including Chalamet’s singing and dancing. Every production aspect satisfies. The cinematography is lovely, as is the pacing, and there’s enough mustache-twirling devilment by the villains to make the stakes high enough that we pull for Willy and his friends. The songs are catchy and infuse some of the 1971 film themes we know.

“…fluffy, loud, colorful, and goofy.”

At the screening, I was accompanied by a college student I’ve known most of her life. She is interested in film studies and is also a fan of the Wilder Willy Wonka. She was skeptical of Chalamet at first, but he won her over. Ultimately, she told me, “I enjoyed how it went back to the slightly darker kids movies. Reminds me of stuff I watched. I also loved the preposterousness of everything, including the campy villains. Awesome.” When she was little, one of her favorite animated shows was Ruby Gloom, so she was definitely the right Zoomer to ask. She also coined the neologism “Wonkamunion” to describe Willy breaking up a piece of chocolate to share with his friends.

This will be an easy target for cynics, snobs, and bottom feeders sniffing for clicks because, as we know, negativity drives more online reactions than positive press. Wonka is fluffy, loud, colorful, and goofy. King is not looking to expand on the literary legacy of Roald Dahl; it’s not that serious. Anyone offended that Dahl’s canon in published works is not front and center needs to remember that they have a library card and can put their phone down and go read the books, which are right where they left them. This is a fun diversion with simple emotional appeal, catchy songs, and dark undertones. That’s precisely what it is. Please put it in your permanent rotation and give it the new classic status it deserves.

Wonka (2023)

Directed: Paul King

Written: Paul King, Simon Farnaby

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Coleman, Gustave Die, Hugh Grant, Murray McArthur, Rowan Atkinson, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Wonka Image

"…give it the new classic status it deserves."

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  1. Bud Elder says:

    I’ve been screaming to the hills the exact same raves. Thanks for the affirmation

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