Wonka – Movie Review

For a movie that sure has absolutely no right in being any good, Wonka sure is a delight. No one asked for a prequel to Charlie [Willy Wonka] & the Chocolate Factory–the idea, frankly, is obnoxious. Yet the movie, from Paul King–the director behind the equally delightful Paddington movies–works, and it works wonderfully well.

Boasting a charming underdog story, Wonka dances and sings amongst a chorus of creative characters are charmingly insidious villains. With plenty of enjoyable musical numbers (yes, Wonka is a musical), witty quips, and imaginative set design and visual effects, the movie glows from start to finish.

At the middle of it all is Timothée Chalamet, who does a superb job of emulating Gene Wilder while simultaneously making the character of Willy Wonka his own. He lights up every scene he’s in, injecting humor, levity and at times chocolate-infused joy.

The rest of the cast is aces, too. Fourteen-year-old Calah Lane makes for the perfect companion, while it’s always great to see Jim Carter. The actors who play the villains are even more of a highlight, with Olivia Coleman, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, and Matthew Baynton all making the most of every moment they’re on screen.

Cast aside, Paul King deserves top honors here. The guy clearly has a knack for delivering high-quality, charming, entertainment. Like with Paddington, Wonka serves as a lighthearted reprieve from the seriousness of the world, our lives, and frankly, most of the other films on the market. It is, truly, a delight.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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