Wonka (2023)

I always thought that everyone read Roald Dahl growing up but I am thinking now that might not have been the case. The reason I thought this is of course because the covers of Roald Dahl’s books were always the best and school libraries usually had more than one copy. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of those stories almost everyone knows. It’s a classic in children’s literature and even if you haven’t read it you probably know about the films. The question is: Does it hold up over time? The answer? Well.. maybe somewhat. You have of course the issue of racism as well as slavery which aren’t addressed properly. Rather the book shows a covert glorification of these themes. At least from what I and others remember. We look much more critical on such topics now and good on us. Better late than never? I mean stealing a group of people from their homeland and letting them work without them getting paid a substantial amount of money. There is so much wrong with that as one says from the outset and throughout. But this new film doesn’t necessarily touch those themes. They bring a new approach to the Oompa Loompa which in turn doesn’t match any of the films but that might be a blessing. I think we are ready for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a much kinder and more modern view of Wonka’s factory workers. Where we address the themes of the original story instead of warping them or downright ignoring them. But that film wasn’t made and is not what we are discussing today.

The film in short
With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.
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My thoughts

If you do not like musical films, this is not the film for you. I do say this explicitly because there is a big difference between a musical and a musical film. People in musicals are usually cast because of their talents in singing, dancing, and acting. Whereas in musical films you can get away with a lesser singing or dancing talent by using angles and or auto-tuning the songs. I am not saying that happened here, I enjoyed the singing but there is an important difference there. Some people do not like musicals full stop, again then it’s not for you.

I thought the film was quite well done, I liked the relationship young Willy Wonka had with his mother and the ‘reveal’ of the chocolate bar he had from her. The reveal wasn’t groundbreaking and it was expected but it was a good life lesson to include. The film did focus quite a bit on the nostalgia factor, especially in the songs but that isn’t so odd as it’s the main reason most people go see it. I believe this film to be very fun for children as it’s a bit goofy and silly at times. It feels quite magical, such as the giraffe that is visited and then stolen. Or a contract that isn’t read making Willy’s problems worse not to mention a cartel of chocolatiers. I thought it was very fun that it felt as if everything was looking up with the store opening it then all going downhill. I thought this was well done, to give us a glimpse for the older viewers a nod toward the factory in Wonka’s future.

I thought that the girl who played Noodle (Calah Lane) was absolutely cute. I was rooting for her, from when we first saw her to when we learned all about her back story. Your heart breaks a little with that I must say. The supporting cast in general was chosen well and you could feel their growing affection and friendship within the time of the story. I loved the ending where all the loose ends were neatly tied up in a fun after-the-movie bit. I think that Timothée Chalamet did a wonderful job playing Wonka. I think he was serious when he needed to and the whole performance didn’t come off as slightly unhinged. Which I think is the pitfall one can fall into when performing in such a role. This is genuinely a very fun film, it’s not the best or most groundbreaking but will give you a fun afternoon. I enjoyed my time at the cinema immensely and I recommend the film if it’s something you think you would like. If only for nostalgia’s sake.

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