Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast


Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

"Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why it's candy." 

In 2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the whimsical Willy Wonka once shared that "candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker." Now, in filmmaker Paul King's prequel "Wonka," inspired by Roald Dahl's iconic Wonka books but not bound by them, we're treated to a delightful two-hour musical comedy that embodies this sweet sentiment. The film aspires to tug at our heartstrings, yet its primary goal is to entertain, enchant, and elicit cheers when the villains meet their inevitable defeat.

From performances to costumes, songs to choreography, "Wonka" delivers a level of quality that goes above and beyond, surpassing the mere necessities for a successful project. As executives often say, it's a pre-sold property – after all, who isn't familiar with and fond of Willy Wonka? The film invites the audience not only to shed a sentimental tear or two but mainly to revel in the joy, laughter, and triumph that this whimsical journey promises.

It's undeniably formulaic—a fact that "Wonka" proudly acknowledges. With a generous sprinkling of self-referential jokes and a plethora of outrageous puns, the film walks the fine line between insufferable and charming, miraculously landing on the side of the latter. From the get-go, director Paul King, co-writer Simon Farnaby, and their collaborators establish and maintain a tone that is both controlled and well-paced. The film doesn't shy away from satirical or metaphorical elements, weaving them into the narrative as subtle touches, often presented as sight gags to preserve the overall sweetness without overwhelming it.

Our protagonist, Wonka (played by Timothee Chalamet), and his steadfast companion Noodle (Calah Lane), the resilient and resourceful orphan, form a duo that automatically earns our sympathy. Wonka's connection to his past, symbolized by the last chocolate bar crafted by his jungle-raised candy-maker mother (depicted in flashbacks by Sally Hawkins), adds layers to his character and serves as a wellspring of inspiration. The story's primary antagonists come in the form of a formidable trio of businessmen—Paterson Joseph's Slugworth, Matt Lucas's Prodnose, and Matthew Banton's Fickelgruber. Together, they control the candy industry, manipulate the city's corrupt police force, and ensure that entering the business is nearly impossible for anyone else. The central narrative, revolving around young Wonka's pursuit of success as a chocolatier, echoes a template reminiscent of Horatio Alger-inspired tales, where an ambitious young individual from the countryside arrives in the big city, facing challenges and setbacks but driven by determination.

"Wonka" masterfully balances its formulaic elements with an abundance of wit, whimsy, and heart, making it a delightful cinematic confection.

A cautionary note echoes through "Wonka" as a character warns, "The greedy beat the needy every time." This theme is vividly illustrated from the film's opening musical sequence, where Wonka, armed with a mere six farthings, navigates the world of legally mandatory expenses, including fines for daydreaming. His journey takes a twist when he finds refuge in the seemingly benevolent Mrs. Scrubbit's inn, overseen by her right-hand man, the imposing Bleacher.

However, the warmth quickly fades as Wonka realizes that his stay comes with an unexpected cost—every action he takes adds a new charge to his growing bill, including the simple act of walking upstairs to his room. The film introduces a Dahl-esque touch, bordering on Dickensian, as constant fines are imposed on the less affluent, highlighting a stark societal divide. The cruelty of characters, manifested in slaps, punches, and kicks towards the powerless, particularly Noodle, emphasizes the harsh realities faced by those who lack privilege, drawing parallels to a world reminiscent of Dickens' tales.

In "Wonka," our protagonist finds himself relegated to a basement laundry processing facility, alongside other indentured servants like Abacus Crunch, once an accountant to Slugworth, and the spirited Noodle. The bond that quickly forms between Wonka and Noodle introduces a sibling-like dynamic, injecting a fresh and appealing dimension into the narrative. Wonka's aspirations to liberate his fellow workers elevate his pursuit of success in the chocolate business—his motivation extends beyond personal gain, encompassing the well-being of his newfound companions and his mother.

However, the path to victory is far from smooth. The script, relentless in its challenges, ensures that Wonka faces setbacks, often taking two steps back for every step forward. This dynamic is visually emphasized, such as in a scene where Chalamet, portraying Wonka, literally takes steps backward down a staircase—a rare yet effective metaphor conveyed through the actor's footwork.

The narrative unfolds with elaborate plans unraveling due to unforeseen circumstances or the influence of villains. Wonka and Noodle showcase their quick-witted improvisation skills, navigating through the unexpected twists. As a fantasy, sometimes bordering on the cartoonish, the film keeps the audience guessing about the extent of Wonka's resources. There's a whimsical ambiguity surrounding whether he might be an otherworldly creature with only conditioning or psychology as limitations. The chocolate-making "travel kit" he carries is practically a miniature factory with its seemingly self-sufficient power source.

In a nod to cheeky fantasy, Wonka's journey takes a surprising turn when he finally opens his own chocolate shop—almost miraculously, it's up and running overnight, sidestepping concerns about finances, materials, permits, and the multitude of contractors typically required for such ventures. This audacious approach, reminiscent of a cinematic sleight of hand, adds a playful charm to the storyline, akin to the theatrical moment in "The Blues Brothers" where Cab Calloway is told to stall for time, leading to a curtain going up to reveal a perfectly orchestrated performance in a 1930s Art Deco set.

In "Wonka," the film boldly embraces its contrivances, manipulations, and absurdist embellishments without any apologies, allowing its goodhearted trickster hero and select characters to subtly comment on them—though not as overtly as the likes of Bugs Bunny or Deadpool might do, it's practically in the same spirit. The collaboration of Nathan Crowley's production design, Lindy Hemming's costumes, and Chung-hoo Chung's cinematography paints a universe with a certain grittiness, rooted in economic distress, yet drenched in the vibrant colors of one of Wonka's candies.

Within this universe, a class system prevails, where the one percent holds dominion over the rest. Remarkably, "Wonka" navigates this hierarchy without introducing racism. The film sidesteps concerns about the Oompa-Loompas, Wonka's future factory workers, potentially being imperialistic caricatures of nonwhite people by casting Hugh Grant as the lone example—a chocolate thief with a peculiar English leprechaun twist, obsessed with his own version of the fabled pot-o'-gold.

Notably, the film diverges from Roald Dahl's tendency to equate conventional beauty with virtue and ugliness with nonstandard body types. This departure is evident, save for the recurring gag of the corrupt police chief swelling up from consuming bribe candy, injecting humor into a narrative thread that touches on societal corruption.

In "Wonka," the city that Wonka conquers is a fascinating amalgamation of London and Paris, enriched with elements from various other locales. Yet, it exudes the ambiance of an old/new city from the pages of a fantasy or science fiction tale, akin to the captivating cities in films like "The French Dispatch," "Amélie," and "Moulin Rouge." The cinematography, particularly in flashbacks and daylight scenes, is adorned with a gorgeous silvery hue, reminiscent of storybook visuals or a graphic novel. However, it takes an unfortunate turn in night scenes and dimly lit locations, appearing washed-out and indifferently composed, akin to the visual style of a "Netflix original."

The performances, led by exceptional turns from actors like Colman and Grant, contribute to the film's overall appeal. Yet, a notable drawback lies in the script, which fails to fully explore the stories of certain characters in the laundry room. This omission leaves some narratives feeling underdeveloped, adding a layer of puzzlement to an otherwise engaging storyline.

In a nod to Tim Burton's 2005 take on Wonka, which the reviewer expresses admiration for, there's a comparison drawn regarding the cinematography. While acknowledging the merits of Burton's film, especially its consistently appealing visuals and vibrant compositions, the critique suggests that "Wonka" falls short in achieving the same visual impact, particularly in certain lighting conditions.

In the realm of music, the reviewer candidly admits to not being able to hum or quote the new songs from "Wonka" while writing the piece. However, there's a lingering memory of enjoying them in the moment, especially one in the initial sequence when Wonka finds himself separated from his money. The film revisits hits from the 1971 adaptation, such as the Oompa Loompa song and "Pure Imagination," the latter also incorporated into Joby Talbot's score. These reprised classics seem strategically placed to evoke a Pavlovian response, potentially triggering tears for viewers of older generations. Such tactics align with the expectations of productions driven by established "intellectual property," a strategy reminiscent of other franchise-driven films like Batman or Disney prequels such as "Cruella" (with a subtle nod to corruption elements akin to "The Batman").

Yet, the film's mastery in executing its vision renders the question of whether it's a cynical enterprise almost irrelevant. "Wonka" mirrors the persona of its titular character—enthusiastically inscrutable. Timothee Chalamet's portrayal of Wonka, with its elegantly withholding quality, channels moments of quiet contemplation and madcap inspiration, reminiscent of Gene Wilder's iconic performance. The film's ability to capture the essence of Wonka's enigmatic charm contributes to its overall success, transcending potential cynicism and leaving the audience captivated.

Wonka 2023 cast: Full list of characters in Timothée Chalamet movie

Timothée Chalamet plays Willy Wonka

Timothée Chalamet plays Willy Wonka, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Who is Willy Wonka? In Wonka, Willy Wonka takes center stage, with Timothée Chalamet portraying the character. This film serves as an official prequel to the 1971 classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, showcasing Chalamet as the youthful incarnation of Gene Wilder's iconic character. The narrative delves into Wonka's adventures before the establishment of his renowned chocolate factory.

What other projects has Timothée Chalamet been involved in? Timothée Chalamet gained widespread recognition for his standout performance as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve's 2021 adaptation of Dune. His versatile acting prowess extends to notable roles in films such as The French Dispatch, Little Women, The King, Bones and All, A Rainy Day in New York, Beautiful Boy, Lady Bird, and the critically acclaimed Call Me By Your Name, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Olivia Colman as Mrs Scrubbit

Olivia Colman as Mrs Scrubbit, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Who is Mrs. Scrubbit? Mrs. Scrubbit is a character in Wonka portrayed as a miserly figure reminiscent of Scrooge. She, along with Bleacher, employs Noodle and initially offers a room to Wonka at their hotel. However, their seemingly hospitable gesture turns out to be a ploy to ensnare Wonka through a binding contract, compelling him to work for them.

Discussing her attraction to the project, Colman shared with RadioTimes.com, "I wanted to work with [director] Paul King. I loved what he'd done with both Paddingtons, and I just think he's a lovely person."

"It's so nice when you get on set and go, 'Hooray! He genuinely is as lovely as I'd hoped.' And very collaborative and kind and funny, and the first one to laugh at anything you do on set, which is a lovely feeling. And Wonka, I grew up with it. So I was really excited. And to play a [Roald] Dahl baddie!"

What other projects has Olivia Colman been involved in? Olivia Colman boasts an extensive and diverse career, having left her mark in various notable productions. From her early appearances in TV comedies like Peep Show, Green Wing, and That Mitchell and Webb Look, she has ascended to the pinnacle of her profession, earning an Academy Award for her stellar portrayal of Queen Anne in 2018's The Favourite.

Tom Davis as Bleacher

Tom Davis as Bleacher, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Who is Bleacher? Bleacher is introduced in Wonka as the co-owner of the Inn alongside Mrs. Scrubbit.

Discussing what attracted him to the role, Davis shared with RadioTimes.com, "For me, working with Paul King again, having done Paddington [2] with him. And the journey of Paddington, going from what was I think one line to having this character arc, that was amazing to be a part of. So to get a call and say, 'This is his next project' and him and Simon [Farnaby] had written a part for me...

"And honestly, I’m like, 'OK, if it's a line I'll do it, whatever you want Paul', because I think Paul is just a generational talent. And he's like, 'It's Timothée Chalamet and all your stuff will be with Olivia'. I was like, 'Wow!' It's an amazing thing. Just a real pinch me moment, very humbling and an incredible thing."

What other projects has Tom Davis been involved in? Tom Davis, recognized for his contributions to the semi-improvised TV series Murder in Successville, has a diverse portfolio. Wonka marks his second collaboration with director Paul King, the first being Paddington 2, where he portrayed T-Bone. His television credits extend to The Curse, King Gary, and Romesh and Tom Take Takeshi's Castle.

Rowan Atkinson as Father Julius

Rowan Atkinson as Father Julius, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Rowan Atkinson, known for his iconic roles in Mr. Bean, Blackadder, and Four Weddings and a Funeral, plays the character Father Julius in the film. The versatile actor has also been part of projects like Not the Nine O’Clock News, Johnny English, The Thin Blue Line, Love Actually, Man vs Bee, Rat Race, Scooby-Doo, showcasing his diverse talent. With a face as recognizable as his, Atkinson has left an indelible mark on the world of comedy and entertainment.

Paterson Joseph as Arthur Slugworth

Paterson Joseph as Arthur Slugworth, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Paterson Joseph takes on the role of Arthur Slugworth, a significant rival in the world of chocolate and confectionary in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Renowned for his portrayal of Alan Johnson in Peep Show, Joseph is a familiar face in British TV. His recent appearances in shows like Inside No. 9, Vigil, and Timeless further highlight his versatility and contribution to the realm of British television.

Hugh Grant as Lofty

Hugh Grant as Lofty, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Hugh Grant takes on the role of Lofty, the original Oompa-Loompa who hails from a distant land to assist Willy Wonka in his chocolate-making ventures. Grant, a versatile actor, has left an indelible mark on the film industry. Rising to fame with his role in 1994's Four Weddings and a Funeral, which earned him a BAFTA Award, Grant has become synonymous with romantic comedies. His filmography includes notable works such as Notting Hill, About a Boy, Love Actually, Paddington 2, The Gentlemen, A Very English Scandal, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sense and Sensibility, Maurice, and many more, showcasing his enduring presence and diverse acting prowess.

Sally Hawkins as Willy’s Mother

Sally Hawkins as Willy’s Mother, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Sally Hawkins takes on the role of Willy Wonka's mother in "Wonka," playing a pivotal part in shaping Timothée Chalamet's character throughout the film. Hawkins, known for her collaboration with director Paul King in the Paddington movies, has left a lasting impact with her performances. Renowned for her roles in The Shape of Water, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, as well as Made in Dagenham and Happy-Go-Lucky, Hawkins has showcased her versatile acting skills.

Her filmography also includes appearances in Godzilla, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Maudie, The Phantom of the Open, The Lost King, A Boy Called Christmas, and more, reflecting her ability to bring depth and authenticity to a diverse range of roles.

Mathew Baynton as Fickelgruber

Mathew Baynton as Fickelgruber, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Fickelgruber, another rival of Willy Wonka, is portrayed by Mathew Baynton in "Wonka." Baynton, known for his creative contributions to Ghosts, The Wrong Mans, Horrible Histories, and Yonderland, has not only played a key role in shaping these projects but has also showcased his acting talents across various notable works.

His diverse filmography includes appearances in popular shows such as Gavin & Stacey, Peep Show, Quacks, Bill, Horne & Corden, demonstrating his versatility in both comedic and dramatic roles. As an integral part of several successful projects, Baynton continues to leave a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.

Matt Lucas as Prodnose

Matt Lucas as Prodnose, Mathew Baynton as Fickelgruber, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

Prodnose, portrayed as another rival of Willy Wonka, is brought to life by Matt Lucas in "Wonka." Lucas, renowned for co-writing and starring alongside David Walliams in the iconic comedies Little Britain and Come Fly With Me, has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.

His extensive filmography spans a variety of TV shows and films, with notable appearances in Fantasy Football League, The Great British Bake Off, and Shooting Stars, showcasing Lucas's comedic prowess and versatility. His contributions have not only entertained audiences but have solidified his status as a prominent figure in the world of comedy and entertainment.

Keegan-Michael Key as The Chief of Police

aKeegan-Michael Key as The Chief of Police, Wonka Movie (2023) Summary Review, Cast

The Chief of Police, a character easily swayed by the Chocolate Cartel due to his insatiable sweet tooth, is portrayed by Keegan-Michael Key in "Wonka." Throughout the film, he succumbs to corruption, gaining a considerable amount of weight as he becomes entangled in Slugworth's schemes in exchange for chocolate.

Keegan-Michael Key, best known for his notable presence in the sketch show Key and Peele, has showcased his comedic talent and versatility in various projects. His appearances in Schmigadoon!, Reboot, and The Bubble reflect his ongoing contribution to the entertainment industry. Additionally, Key has lent his voice to several roles, including the character Toad in the Super Mario Bros Movie, further highlighting his diverse skills as an actor.

Who else is in the cast of Wonka?

The cast of "Wonka" boasts a diverse ensemble, including notable talents such as Ellie White from "Stath Lets Flats," Jim Carter known for "Downton Abbey," Simon Farnaby of "Ghosts," Natasha Rothwell featured in "The White Lotus," Rich Fulcher from "The Mighty Boosh," Tracy Ifeachor from "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," Rufus Jones, recognized for "W1A," Rakhee Thakrar from "Sex Education," Cala Lane, who has appeared in "This is Us," Colin O'Brien known for "Dear Edward," Freya Parker (Miss Bon Bon in "Jurassic World Dominion"), Justin Edwards from "The Thick of It," and more. The diverse and talented cast contributes to the film's overall richness and appeal.

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