Willy Wonka, the director of Roald Dahl’s famous Chocolate Factory, has the right to his origin story for Christmas. Wonka, a name that everyone knows since it is that of the mysterious chocolatier in the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, has already been featured twice in the cinema.
Now that Netflix has seized the rights to adapt all the writer’s work, Warner Bros has chosen to imagine a completely original and new story about the character’s youth.
The very idea of an original story by the famous chocolatier has long left us perplexed, but let’s admit that the result is a success. A result which owes a lot to the duo composed of director Paul King and screenwriter Simon Farnaby, already at the helm of the recent Paddington.
The pair brilliantly takes up the winning recipe of these family films to deliver here a gourmet and generous adventure. All the ingredients are there, a wonderful world, colorful characters, catchy music, playful and ingenious staging, a touch of humor, and a heart as big as that. Everything is served by a cast of friendly actors who seem to be having fun like crazy.
The extravagant and mysterious Willy Wonka, the central character in the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, is now given a past in the film Wonka, a role assigned to Timothee Chalamet.
Willy Wonka does not go unnoticed. In addition to his very own appearance, his hat, and his cane which defined him as a king with crown and scepter, Willy Wonka has an extraordinary charisma. But there was a time when he had no real goal to achieve.
Wonka’s other success is not relying (too much) on his intellectual property. Far from simply inventing a pretext story for the character of the young chocolatier, the feature film juggles with genres.
Sometimes an escape film, sometimes a heist film, then a gang film, and a great melodrama, Wonka skillfully manages its writing and its twists and turns to never fall flat.
Story and review
In this new film, Willy Wonka is still a young unknown chocolatier who learned everything from his mother who left too early. It is in the hope of finding his mind and discovering the secret that she did not have time to reveal to him that he arrives in town to sell his creations.
His enchanted chocolates will quickly arouse the jealousy of the three big chocolatiers at the head of a sort of chocolate mafia that has taken over the city. To achieve his ambitions, Willie Wonka will have to be smarter than them.
Cleverly hidden in the trailers and all the film’s promotion, it will only take a few minutes to discover that Wonka is a musical. Nothing surprising in the end because the two versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were already that too.
Even though it is an Origin story, Wonka is not officially a prequel to either adaptation of Charlie And the Chocolate Factory. Where the Willy Wonka we knew until then was quite worrying and cynical, the one we will discover here is much more sympathetic in his various misadventures to become a famous chocolatier.
Produced by David Heyman to whom we owe the Harry Potter saga and directed by Paul King who wrote and directed the two Paddington films, Wonka follows the specifications of the English fantasy tale to the letter.
Without being afraid of genre cliches, we find a bit of Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, and Paddington in the colorful characters of the feature films and the different situations encountered.
If it is primarily aimed at children, older children will have just as much fun because without being very original, Wonka will never fail to surprise with its many twists and turns.
In the end, the young actor rises to the occasion for this younger version of the character which seems to have been tailor-made for him.
In addition to tackling the register of children’s comedy in which we had not yet seen him, he also reveals to us surprising talents as a singer. Those who go to see Wonka for Hugh Grant will have to be patient because he will only appear very late in the story and will not have much screen presence. His rather unexpected performance in this film is still really funny and will certainly not disappoint his fans.
Even if it presents a much more sympathetic side of Willy Wonka, this new prequel remains very faithful in spirit to the works of Roald Dahl. All the ingredients come together to make it a new classic children’s film full of humor and beautiful songs. Timothee Chalamet surprises and amazes in this new role which seems to have been tailor-made and the rest of the colorful cast will also not fail to delight you and make you laugh. A charming musical, full of tasty ideas.