Movie Poster - Wonka
"Movie Poster," Wonka, directed by Paul King, 2023, (Warner Bros.)

Timothee Chalamet, in channeling the light, curiosity, and silliness of Willy Wonka, brings the more lovable side out of the iconic character.


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Timothee Chalamet, in channeling the light, curiosity, and silliness of Willy Wonka, brings the more lovable side out of the iconic character.

Read our Editorial Guidelines regarding how posts are written and rated and our use of affiliate links.

Movie Poster - Wonka
“Movie Poster,” Wonka, directed by Paul King, 2023, (Warner Bros.)

General Information

Director(s)

Paul King

Screenplay By

Simon Farnaby, Paul King

Based On Work By

Roald Dahl

Date Released

December 15, 2023

How To Watch

In Theaters

Genre(s)

Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Young Adult, Musical

Film Length

1 Hour 56 Minutes

Content Rating

Rated PG

Noted Characters and Cast

Willy Wonka

Timothée Chalamet

Noodle

Calah Lane

Content Rating Explanation

  • Dialog: Nothing notable
  • Violence: Attempted murder and harm, with cartoonish violence
  • Sexual Content: Not applicable
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking

Plot Summary

Willy Wonka, a young man raised on a boat by a single mother, has traveled the world for years, taking note of everything his mother taught him about cooking, particularly chocolate. Now, unfortunately, she has passed, but with the last chocolate bar she made for him, he carries a piece of her everywhere.

And it is Willy’s hope that he’ll do her proud as he pursues opening his chocolate shop and working alongside the greats.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Willy Wonka

Wonka is an orphan who grew up traveling and learning magic on his mother’s boat. However, thanks to his mom, he also found a love of making chocolate. It was a yearly treat she would make, and because of how special that one bar a year was and the expensiveness of chocolate, Wonka decided to make affordable, memorable chocolate for all.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Bones And All.”

Noodle

Heavily in debt to one of the film’s villains, all for being dropped down a laundry shoot as a baby, Noodle runs errands throughout the day and tries to avoid punishments in the night.  

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Notable Performances or Moments

Noodle and Willy’s Relationship

The intimacy and chemistry between Noodle and Wonka is undeniable. Note, it isn’t romantic, as she is a child, but a desire to protect one another is displayed at such a level that it presents a rarely seen kind of love between what I’d submit are the lead actor and actress.

Strangely, Wonka is illiterate but has survived on the kindness of strangers, of which Noodle is one, and she is someone led to believe she is an orphan. Both, alone in the world, bond as Wonka’s infectious optimism meets Noodle’s skepticism about life and the value of pursuing, or even having, hopes and dreams.

So, Wonka developing the need to protect Noodle’s hope matched with Noodle’s need for Wonka’s dreams to come true, which allows for the film to transcend comparisons to the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka.

Highlights

We Get An Epilogue

One thing we truly don’t get enough of is epilogues – an idea of what happened to supporting characters as the lead characters find their story coming to an end. Luckily, “Wonka” is different, and for nearly every character, we’re given a definitive ending – thankfully without the push of a sequel.

Chalamet Hones In On The Playful Boyishness, Rather Than The Darkness Of Willy Wonka

With Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s version of Willy Wonka tapping into his darkness and eccentricities, you may wonder where Chalamet lands on the spectrum. To me, he is stripped of the darkness of Depp’s version and seems purely to be built on Wilder’s wonder, curiosity, and playfulness.

You see, this Wonka is equally a chocolatier as they are a magician. They know that marketing is essential even without a degree or seemingly a formal education. So, as he talks about far-off places, has it where chocolate or people fly or go through various stages of love, grief, and more, it creates cause to giggle and be delighted at the madness. All of which, while surely there are visual effects involved, they are clean and not a crutch to compensate but rather compliment or accentuate.

Thus, Chalamet is allowed to be lifted up, and rather than be a lesser form of an iconic character, he makes his version of Willy Wonka through boyish charm, naivete, and just a touch of darkness.

It Has The Ability To Bring You To Tears

It could be submitted that Willy Wonka, like a lot of happy people who try to see the good in everyone, has a bit of darkness of their own they are running from. For Wonka, I’d submit that the loss of his mom isn’t just a quick backstory but both the pain in his heart and his joy.

In a recent interview, Colman Domingo had, speaking about the loss of his own mother; he didn’t speak about the loss in terms of the grief, missing what she did or things like that, but rather he questioned what to do with all the love?

To me, that is Wonka’s issue, and through bonding with people like Noodle, providing everyone, even the poor, the opportunity to have a piece of chocolate, that is Wonka’s way of expressing the love he can no longer directly give to his mom.

On The Fence

A Bit Of An Odd Prequel

“Wonka” is a bit of an odd prequel. It doesn’t seem to be meant to directly align with Gene Wilder’s version but does tap into the music to trigger feelings of nostalgia. From Hugh Grant doing his rendition of the Oompa Loompa song, an emotionally charged version of “Pure Imagination,” to recognizable names like “Slugsworth,” it almost pushes you to wonder if this is less so a prequel but rather a different interpretation of the source material.

The Music Is Good In Movie, But It Won’t Push You To Stream The Soundtrack

Beyond a modified version of “Pure Imagination” and the Oompa Loompa songs, there is new music. Now, I can’t say if, similar to the upcoming “The Color Purple” movie, if the music might be from a Broadway version or not, though that was far more focused on Charlie than Wonka.

However, I can say that there isn’t necessarily a catchy song that stays with you that is original to this film. Can you perhaps remember the scenarios? Yes. But as for lyrics? There isn’t a clever tune here to match how memorable the imagery is.

Also Worth Mentioning

  • Villains wise, they are all very much geared towards buffoonery and will appeal to kids more than illicit fear.

Who Is This For?

Fans of musicals, colorful characters, and films that know the best happy people are those carrying a darkness inside, will absolutely love Chalamet’s “Wonka.”

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Maleficient: If you wish to watch another prequel movie based on a popular film
  2. Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory: To see the original (Affiliate Link)
  3. Cats Don’t Dance: If you want an animated musical about someone new to town with big dreams, facing a world that wants to regulate how big their dreams can get (Affiliate Link)

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

Discussion Items

Let us know your thoughts in the comments:

  1. Assuming this is successful, you think instead of making sequels to popular movies, the industry may shift and create a notable number of prequels? It did seem that, with “Maleficient,” that could be possible, but it didn’t come to pass.
  2. Do you think they sidestepped talking about Wonka’s father to avoid making this seem related to Johnny Depp’s version of Wonka, which heavily focused on Wonka’s relationship with his dad?

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Wonka (2023) – Movie Review

Summary

Admittedly, to much surprise, not only does Chalament make Wonka his own, and comes second only to Gene Wilder, but he leads what is not only a visually entertaining movie, but one that can also stir your emotions as reminds you those who spread the most joy often were inspired by those who they can no longer give it to.

Overall
80%
80%
  • Noodle and Willy’s Relationship - 87%
    87%
  • We Get An Epilogue - 82%
    82%
  • Chalamet Hones In On The Playful Boyishness, Rather Than The Darkness Of Willy Wonka - 83%
    83%
  • It Has The Ability To Bring You To Tears - 84%
    84%
  • A Bit Of An Odd Prequel - 78%
    78%
  • The Music Is Good In Movie, But It Won’t Push You To Stream The Soundtrack - 74%
    74%
  • The Villains - 75%
    75%

Highlight(s)

  • It Has The Ability To Bring You To Tears
  • Chalamet Hones In On The Playful Boyishness, Rather Than The Darkness Of Willy Wonka
  • We Get An Epilogue
  • Noodle and Willy’s Relationship

Disputable

  • The Villains
  • The Music Is Good In Movie, But It Won’t Push You To Stream The Soundtrack
  • A Bit Of An Odd Prequel

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