Sofia De La Espriella
Paul King, the previous director of PADDINGTON and PADDINGTON 2 takes you on an adventure of the “origin story” of Willy Wonka. This film primarily shows the audience more of a side event of Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) obtaining his chocolate factory rather than his childhood or even what made this man so crazy in the 1971 and 2005 Willy Wonka films. It still greatly portrays how this event impacted Willy Wonka.
King's directorial style shows the same sort of whimsical, whacky, and nostalgic feel he has previously shown in his other films. A supporting actress named Noodle (Calah Lane), age twelve during the production, gives this movie a wistful and pure feel, even though she is going through some heavy circumstances in this movie. She genuinely helps Wonka heal his inner child and takes him back to the good times in his childhood. We discover that his mother passed away leaving him behind but we are shown his thinking of opening a chocolate store will somehow bring her back to life and be with him.
Wonka is truly its own story because we are introduced to new characters, a different background of Willy Wonka, and overall a different feel. In the previous Willy Wonka movies, Wonka was pictured as a madman. Yes, you can say Timothée Chalamet’s performance showed Wonka as crazy, however, it is hard to believe that this was the Wonka who laughed at a little girl getting pulled down by squirrels to a garbage chute that leads to an incinerator.
The Wonka in the 2023 adaptation was certainly weird but not like the weird in the other movies. We are shown an innocent and starry-eyed optimistic dreamer whose main goal is to open a store in a city known for its chocolate. It is then discovered that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers who are not fond of their new competition. This movie is mainly targeted at a younger audience with the good guy vs. bad guy theme. On the other hand, there are heavy topics that keep the older audience engaged such as entrepreneurship and the corruption of having a business.
Trailers don’t greatly portray that this is a musical, however with the previous Willy Wonka movies being musicals, I guess it is insinuated. None of the actors are known as singers so the singing takes you out of the movie. There is use of heavy CGI and green screens however it oddly works in this fictional realm.
Many obstacles come in the way of Wonka getting his chocolate store. This movie almost becomes a jail-break movie because Wonka is enslaved and the only way he can get out is if he pays away his debts with a large amount of money he does not have. He is not alone and meets many companions that show the viewers this city isn't all bad. The movie is packed with characters that grow on you and almost outshine Wonka with their quirky behaviors. It ends with him obtaining his chocolate factory with his Oompa-Loompa friend (Hugh Grant) resulting in a satisfying yet predictable ending that pulls on your heartstrings.
Sofia lives in Las Vegas, studying at UNLV Film Department and loves horror films. Her personal email is: