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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Wonka (PG) - 116 minutes

The newest generation was not brought up on Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, dating back 52 years and 18 years respectively.

 

So, it is only fitting that it has its own Wonka and the singing, dancing Timothee Chalamet does a mighty good fist of it.

 

He is charming and effusive as the magic man cum chocolatier who arrives in town after seven years at sea to open a chocolate shop.

 

Having spent and squandered the 12 sovereigns in his pocket on his walk from ship to shore, he is skint.

 

He chooses to think the best of a rogue who ushers him out of the cold.

Bleacher (Tom Davis) looks to take advantage of Wonka’s vulnerability and takes him to lodgings at Mrs Scrubbit’s (Olivia Colman).

 

Not listening to the sage advice of one of Scrubbit’s “helping hands”, kept in servitude, Wonka fails to read the fine print … because he can’t read.

 

As a result, he signs up for what he is told is a sovereign a night (which he believes he can easily cover), only to be hoodwinked big time.

 

In a matter of hours, his bill rises to 10,000 sovereigns and he joins several others trapped in Scrubbit’s web.

 

But Wonka is different. Seemingly out of nowhere, he can magically create the world’s most delicious chocolates that result in people literally taking flight.

 

He forges an instant connection with the orphan girl who urged him to read the fine print, Noodle (Calah Lane).

 

With her help, she breaks his restraints, intent on opening a chocolate shop in a posh part of town, named Gallery Gourmet.

 

It is something he foresaw years earlier, when his beloved mother (Sally Hawkins) – now departed – introduced him to the delights of handmade chocolate.

 

Only what he doesn’t count on is a conspiracy by a cartel operated by three uppity chocolatiers to keep him out of the market.

 

They are Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton).

 

In their pockets are the chief of police (Keegan-Michael Key), a priest, Father Julian (Rowan Atkinson), and 500 chocaholic monks.

 

But Wonka is nothing if not persistent and, of course, he possesses an indominable spirit.

And one can’t overlook his encounter with the diminutive, orange Oompa-Loompa with green hair (Hugh Grant), who has been stalking him.

 

The Oompa-Loompa maintains that Wonka is beholden to him.

 

Infused with some strong musical numbers, which help carry the narrative, the resetting of the Roald Dahl story by Simon Farnaby and Paul King works a treat.

 

It is colourful and creative and puts smiles on faces anew.

 

Not surprisingly, it is the larger-than-life characters that make the piece what it is and many are priceless.

 

I have already referenced Timothee Chalamet being so endearing.

 

Olivia Colman revels in her greedy and wicked persona, which Tom Davis feeds.

 

Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Mathew Baynton play up the chocolate barons’ arrogance and entitlement.

 

Calah Lane displays resilience as Noodle.

 

Gifted some choice one-liners, Hugh Grant steps up to deliver them with aplomb. His droll sense of humour suits the role perfectly.

 

Always a crowd favourite, I would have liked to have seen more of Rowan Atkinson as an unlikely man of the cloth.

 

Among the film’s many stand outs is the sumptuous costuming and production design by Lindy Hemming and Nathan Crowley respectively.

 

Paul King, who established his bona fides as a fine family film director with Paddington and its sequel, has crafted another beauty.

 

Wonka is a delightful blend of fantasy, adventure and humour. Chocolate lovers rejoice!

 

Rated PG, it scores an 8 out of 10.

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