Over fifty years after Gene Wilder dazzled the world with his performance as Willy Wonka, Warner Bros Pictures is set to bring to life the lovable character again with its new iteration about how a young Willy Wonka came to be how he was in the film Wonka. The film sees Timothée Chalamet star in the titular role.
Upon the trailer coming out, Wonka seemed like it might ride that line of too cheesy and even too hokey, leading to its landing on being received well to a specific audience (mainly kids). Because of this, the trailer fell flat for me, lowering my expectations for this movie. No, that doesn’t mean I was pre-judgemental of the film, but I walked into the film thinking this might not be for me, which would be fine.
Whether it was the vibrant colors or outlandish costumes, the film’s opening scene spins you into the magical world of Willy Wonka. However, Chalamet’s musical chops captivated and reeled me into this world and never let go. My reservations about this movie were thrown out the window in those opening moments.
As we see a young Willy Wonka start to take form by attempting to sell his chocolate to many of the locals, things quickly go awry as the “big stores” set out not to allow him to do so. He faces obstacles that seem to be piling up every step of the way, and his dream of one day selling chocolate to the masses is slipping away.
Co-writers Simon Farnaby and Paul King did a great job of building their variation of Willy Wonka uniquely from the other iterations. You can tell the duo wanted this to honor the past but stand out on its own. It has those same vibrant colors, whimsical one-liners, and outlandish moments, but sprinkles some freshness along the way.
The term “born to play this role” is thrown around quite a bit, but I can say that Timothée Chalamet was born to play Willy Wonka. It wasn’t just his singing (he nailed it), how he delivered the quirky dialogue (it was perfect), or even the fun banter with the villains (brilliant), but it was the charisma, charm, and confidence he had that delights you every step of the way. Chalamet is every bit as good in this film as any performance I’ve seen this year.
Chalamet doesn’t do it alone, as he has a fun cast of characters next to him throughout the film. Of note, Calah Lane plays Noodle, and Farnaby/King writes this character with plenty of meat on the bone. Her and Wonka’s story had actual stakes and investments that made you care. Lane and Chalamet play off each other perfectly.
Ultimately, Wonka delivers on every level making it one of the biggest surprises of 2023. It’s funny, charming, and full of life that will have audiences laughing, cheering, and maybe even crying. I HIGHLY recommend taking the whole family to see this one because it’s bound to be the biggest hit of the holiday season.
Wonka hits theaters on Dec. 15, 2023.