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Movie Wonka Review: A Delightful Musical Origin Story of Willy Wonka

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In the world of confections and imaginative tales, there is one name that reigns supreme – Willy Wonka. Known for his whimsical chocolate creations and enigmatic personality, Wonka has captured the hearts of audiences for decades. Now, in the new musical origin story “Wonka,” director Paul King takes us on a journey to uncover the beginnings of this beloved character. Starring the talented Timothée Chalamet as the young Willy Wonka, the film promises to be a delightful treat for all.

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The Casting Controversy

Before we dive into the enchanting world of “Wonka,” it’s important to address the casting controversy surrounding the film. Some actors with dwarfism raised concerns about the decision to cast Hugh Grant as Lofty, one of Wonka’s early Oompa Loompa acquaintances. They argued that the role should have been given to actors with dwarfism rather than relying on CGI to shrink Grant down to Oompa Loompa size. Grant himself expressed his own dissatisfaction with the process, describing it as a “crown of thorns” and admitting that he “made a big fuss” about it. While the controversy looms, let’s explore the world that King and Chalamet have created in “Wonka.”

A Whimsical and Wonderful Tale

“Wonka” is a film that embraces its musical nature from the very beginning. As Willy Wonka arrives singing, we are immediately transported into a world of magic and imagination. The songs, crafted by pop artist Neil Hannon, add an extra layer of enchantment to the story. While they may not reach the heights of the iconic “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film, we eagerly await Chalamet’s rendition of this beloved song.

Willy Wonka’s Innocent and Earnest Nature

Chalamet’s portrayal of Willy Wonka brings a fresh perspective to the character. Unlike previous depictions by Johnny Depp and Gene Wilder, Chalamet’s Wonka is innocent and deeply earnest. There is no guile in his performance, and his guard is not yet up as he embarks on his journey in an unnamed European city that embodies the essence of London, Paris, and Geneva. Chalamet fully immerses himself in the wonderment and vocal demands of the role, captivating audiences with his genuine portrayal.

The Battle Against the Candy Cartel

While Willy dreams of opening a sweets store in the Galeries Gourmet, his plans are thwarted by a preexisting candy cartel. This trio of chocolatiers, consisting of Slugworth, Prodnose, and Fickelgruber, controls the flow of chocolate in the city and doesn’t want any competition, especially from a rival who aims to sell his treats at affordable prices. The film cleverly addresses themes of class consciousness and the redistribution of wealth, highlighting the consequences of hoarding resources and the structural social inequalities that exist.

Hugh Grant’s Memorable Turn as Lofty

Despite the controversies surrounding his casting, Hugh Grant delivers a memorable performance as Lofty, one of Wonka’s Oompa Loompa acquaintances. Grant’s comedic timing and wit shine through, adding a layer of humor to the film. While he may have had reservations about the motion-capture process and the challenges of acting without his body, Grant’s portrayal of Lofty proves to be a scene-stealer.

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British Humor and Visually Stunning Sets

Paul King, known for his work on the “Paddington” films, brings his signature British humor and visual flair to “Wonka.” With a role for Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, the film pays homage to the long lineage of English comic icons. The costumes and sets are beautifully crafted, creating a world that is both visually stunning and vibrant. From the Galeries Gourmet to the local lodging house run by the conniving Mrs. Scrubbit, every detail adds to the whimsy and charm of the film.

The Power of CGI and Animation

“Wonka” utilizes CGI and animation to bring the fantastical elements of the story to life. While Hugh Grant expressed his dislike for the process, it is undeniable that the animation team’s work is impressive. From shrinking Grant down to Oompa Loompa size to choreographing the intricate dance numbers, the animators have created a visually captivating experience for audiences. While Grant’s body may have been replaced by an animator, it is their talent that allows us to witness the magic on screen.

The Delightful Conclusion

As “Wonka” reaches its conclusion, we are left with a sense of joy and wonder. King and Chalamet have successfully crafted a playful and heart-tugging take on a beloved character. While some may have been skeptical about the film, there is no doubt that it delivers on its promises. Chalamet’s earnest performance, Grant’s comedic brilliance, and the film’s exploration of themes such as class consciousness make “Wonka” a delightful and thought-provoking watch.


In the end, “Wonka” is a delightful musical origin story that adds a new layer to the lore of Willy Wonka. With its whimsical charm, talented cast, and visually stunning sets, the film captures the magic and imagination that the character embodies. While controversies may surround the casting choices and the use of CGI, it is clear that the filmmakers have created a truly enchanting experience. So, indulge in the world of “Wonka” and let yourself be swept away by the joy and wonder that it brings.


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