Paul King of Paddington fame directs and co-writes this rather family-friendly, sometimes ostentatious prequel/origin musical story of the 1964 Roald Dahl tale.
Wonka features Timothy Chalamet (Dune 2021), as well as Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Keegan Michael-Key, Hugh Grant, and Calah Lane with a strong U.K. feel to the London-set proceedings.
Not the usual broodingly stylings for the gifted Chalamet of the destitute, imprisoned protagonist who learned to create amazing chocolate creations from his late mom (Hawkins). An unworldly, spry young man has to deal with the Cartel and Colman’s yellow-toothed laundress to realize his dreams after securing a very meager existence.
The candy-colored accoutrement easily invites one into the milieu of a peculiar, orphan, confectionary maker that essentially is a sweet spin on earlier films in which Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp put their fine, if disparate shadings on the central character. As an original tune like “Pure Imagination” plays and corresponds with new ones like “A World of Your Own” that may not be the smooth of sets.
This Wonka is tried-and-true in a warmhearted way that appears to be a malleable fit for the actor with lithe appeal even without the assured voice to back it up. Yet, he plays well opposite Hugh Grant’s dandified, diminutive Oompa-Loompa greenly coiffed with orange skin who finds joy in snatching creations. And, notably with Calah Lane’s nicely rendered Noodle, an indentured female servant abandoned by her mother at the laundry to help skewer capitalism where the source material has room for ominous mischief.