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Wonka
A heartwarming musical prequel to Roald Dahl’s story.

Wonka

Release Date: December 15, 2023
Runtime: 01:56
Synopsis:
With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.
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The origins of the world-famous chocolatier are told in . Willy Wonka () at the Galeries Gourmet to fulfil his dream of being a world-famous chocolatier, which he shared with his late mother (). However, Wonka quickly finds the Galeries Gourmet is ruled by the Chocolate Cartel of Arthur Slugworth (), Gerald Prodnose (), and Felix Fickelgruber (), who bribe the Chief of Police () with chocolate to ensure that Wonka doesn't get his business off the ground. In addition, Wonka finds himself indebted to scam artist boarding house owner Mrs. Scrubitt () and forced to work in the laundry. With the help of orphan Noodle () and a mischievous Oompa-Loompa (), Wonka sneaks out to share his chocolate wares with the world.

Wonka Synopsis

Wonka is a musical adventure comedy written and directed by Paul King (Paddington), based on the characters from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was previously adapted as 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, and 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. Wonka is specifically presented as a prequel to the 1971 film, which includes reusing the film's songs, such as “Pure Imagination”, and the orange-skinned and green-haired appearance of Hugh Grant's Ooompa-Loompa.

Wonka stars Timothée Chalamet (Dune) as the younger titular chocolatier, trying to establish a chocolate shop in the Galeries Gourmet. However, the Chocolate Cartel strictly controls the businesses, which has a secret vault underneath the Cathedral of Father Julius (). With the help of Noodle and his co-workers in the laundry, Wonka establishes a secret system of selling his chocolate under the noses of the Cartel and the corrupt Police Chief.

My Thoughts on Wonka

Paul King has already established much family film credibility as the director of 2014's Paddington and its 2017 sequel. As such, while it can be easy to cynically view Wonka as yet another reboot of a familiar intellectual property, King adds a lot of heart and charm with what is essentially an original story created using Roald Dahl's characters. Like 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which the film takes heavy influence from, Wonka is a full-on musical, featuring new songs written by Neil Hannon, as well as a few of the classics from the original film.

Wonka is very much a film aimed primarily towards children. This includes having some very cartoonish villains with both the Chocolate Cartel and Olivia Colman's Mrs. Scrubitt and a recurring gag where Keegan-Michael Key's Chief of Police is so addicted to chocolate that he becomes progressively fatter throughout the film. Then there's the great extended cameo by the legendary Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) as a chocoholic priest.

Despite being aimed at a younger audience, Wonka is a film that will likely be enjoyed by all. This is a very heartwarming story, as the aspiring chocolatier is guided by the memory of his late mother. Then when Wonka sings his signature tune “Pure Imagination,” it ends up being the cherry on top.

Trailer for Wonka

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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