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Wonka (Dog Friendly Screening) (PG)

Cast: Olivia Colman, Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Timothee Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins
Genre: Drama
Author(s): Paul King, Simon Farnaby
Director: Paul King
Release Date: 08/12/2023
Running Time: 116mins
Country: US
Year: 2023

Willy Wonka pursues his dream of opening a chocolate shop at the Galeries Gourmet, a glittering arcade where confectionery titans Slugworth, Fickelgruber and Prodnose already have high-end boutiques. Alas, the entrepreneurs have formed a secret chocolate cartel and bribe the Chief of Police to thwart Willy's wholesome ambitions. Young Wonka falls into the clutches of villainous Mrs Scrubbit and her sidekick Bleacher, but his resolve is undiminished.


LondonNet Film Review

Wonka (PG) Film Review from LondonNet

As someone with an insatiable sweet tooth, writer-director Paul King’s soft-centred musical comedy based on characters created for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is my idea of a lip-smacking treat. Sugar syrup in a symphony of colours is drizzled over every feelgood frame, hand-stirred at a similar temperature to King’s big screen adventures with Paddington Bear and lavishly decorated with the blessing of Roald Dahl’s estate (the author’s grandson, Luke Kelly, is one of the producers)…

King and co-writer Simon Farnaby combine scrumdiddlyumptious ingredients from Dahl’s books including macabre humour and characters with vividly descriptive names (Jim Carter’s accountant Abacus Crunch is a doozy), with nostalgic references to the phizz-whizzing 1971 musical comedy starring Gene Wilder as the quixotic candy man. Look closely and you’ll spot edible tea cups, hover-chocs that render similar side effects to fizzy lifting drinks, the silver whistle used by Willy to summon Oompa-Loompas, Willy’s familiar attempts at self-correction (“Scratch that, reverse it!” burbles the younger Wonka) plus a heartfelt rendition of Pure Imagination composed by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

Timothee Chalamet exudes an undimmable childlike ebullience in the title role that harmonises perfectly with barn-storming song and dance numbers choreographed by Christopher Gattelli and mouth-watering production design and costumes. Thankfully for Hugh Grant’s scene-stealing turn as an Oompa-Loompa, who proudly claims to be “something of a whopper” in Loompaland, there isn’t a Snozzwanger in sight to spoil the candy-coloured party.

As a young boy, Willy Wonka (Chalamet) nurtures a reverence for lovingly handmade chocolate from his mother (Sally Hawkins), who scrimps to buy ingredients for one bar of the silky confection. When she passes away, Willy pursues his dream of opening a chocolate shop at the Galeries Gourmet, a glittering arcade where confectionery titans Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton) and Prodnose (Matt Lucas) already have high-end boutiques.

Alas, the entrepreneurs have formed a secret chocolate cartel and bribe the Chief of Police (Keegan-Michael Key) to thwart Willy’s wholesome ambitions. Young Wonka falls into the clutches of villainous Mrs Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and her sidekick Bleacher (Tom Davis). “The greedy beat the needy every time,” laments orphan Noodle (Calah Lane), one of Mrs Scrubbit’s other victims, who assists Willy in a daredevil plan to access a secret vault guarded by corrupt cleric Father Julius (Rowan Atkinson) and a brotherhood of chocaholic monks.

Wonka bypasses Johnny Depp’s wild theatrics and repeatedly doffs its hat to Wilder’s charming eccentricity. Neil Hannon, front man of pop band The Divine Comedy, provides original songs that fizz pleasantly in the short-term memory. Admittedly, plotting is the least flavourful element of King’s confection and a set piece with a rampaging computer-generated giraffe over-extends, but in other respects, this fantastical origin story is splendiferous.

– Jo Planter


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