Review by Rich Cline | 4.5/5   MUST must see SEE

dir Paul King
scr Simon Farnaby, Paul King
prd David Heyman, Alexandra Derbyshire, Luke Kelly
with Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Calah Lane, Paterson Joseph, Mathew Baynton, Matt Lucas, Tom Davis, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Carter, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson
release UK 8.Dec.23,
US 15.Dec.23
23/UK Warners 1h52

colman grant key
See also:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Is it streaming?

lane and chalamet
Transitioning to a big studio production, filmmaker Paul King retains the blissful, homemade charm of his earlier work, making this a lovely companion to his Paddington movies. With some superbly deranged touches, this delightful musical comedy prequel will keep audiences smiling and occasionally laughing out loud, even through the somewhat over-egged climactic action. The characters are hugely likeable, including the various villains, and the offbeat casting is simply genius.
Arriving in the big city, Willy Wonka (Chalamet) quickly runs out of cash and is ensnared in the devious trap of Mrs Scrubbit (Colman) and her sidekick Bleacher (Davis). Sentenced to work in their wash house, he befriends Noodle (Lane), a bright young girl who helps Willy keep alive his dream to become a top chocolatier. But three candy magnates (Joseph, Baynton and Lucas) are determined to stop him from threatening their cartel-like grip on the chocolate trade. So with help from Noodle and the other wash house workers, Willy launches his business by stealth.
From the start, the film's buoyant tone wins us over, mixing cheeky humour with Willy's magical flourishes to continually remind us that the usual rules don't apply in this fantastical place. Children will particularly enjoy the eye-catching design work, with its emphasis on delicious-looking sweets, silly animal antics and an endless supply of nutty characters, including the likes of Key as an increasingly pudgy policeman and Atkinson as a chocoholic priest. Plus the terrific Hawkins in flashbacks as Willy's inspirational mother.

Chalamet plays against type as the kind but shadowy Willy, twirling and sparkling through each scene while also revealing his adorable singing-dancing skills and a dark glint in his eyes. His chemistry with each of his costars ripples with subtle emotional nuance and effortless comical timing, with stand-out turns from a grinningly nasty Colman and her dim, preening cohort Davis, while Lucas gets the most hilariously ridiculous running gag. And Grant shamelessly steals his scenes as the tenacious Oompa Loompa.

Cleverly, the song score includes reworked versions of the 1971 film's classic numbers, including Pure Imagination and Oompa Loompa. And the best new number (by Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon) is the thrillingly epic You've Never Had Chocolate Like This. Meanwhile, the script plays lightly with its key theme about dreaming big and never giving up. So it doesn't really matter that the nastiness is never anything but comical, and that there isn't a moment when we doubt that each of the good guys will get a deliciously happy ending.

cert pg themes, violence 28.Nov.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall