Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Wonka (English) Movie Review: On the whole, WONKA is a sweet, ‘delicious’ entertainer.

WONKA is the story of an adorable chocolatier. Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) arrives in a big city to fulfil his dream of opening a chocolate shop in a plaza named Galleries Gourmet. He is poor and on the first day, all his sovereigns get used up. Willy is all set to sleep on a bench out in the open in the biting cold weather. Bleacher (Tom Davis) pretends to take pity on him and takes him to the residence of Mrs Scrubbit (Olivia Colman). She offers a room in her lodge for one sovereign a night. She even allows him to pay her the next day and asks him to sign a contract. Noodle (Calah Lane), a young girl who works at Scrubbit’s property, warns him to “read the fine print”. Wonka can’t read and he signs the contract anyway. The next day, he arrives at the Galleries Gourmet and displays his magical chocolates to the curious onlookers. In no time, they buy his sweets, earning the wrath of the ‘Chocolate cartel’ run by Arthur Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Fickelgrube (Mathew Baynton). They fear that he’ll eat into their chocolate business and bribe the chief police officer (Keegan-Michael Key) to oust him from town. If that is not enough, Wonka gets a shock when he arrives back at Scrubbit’s place and she tells him that as per the contract he signed, he owes her 10,000 sovereigns! Wonka is unable to pay and hence, he’s forced to do laundry for the next 27 years until he can pay off his debt. In the laundry room, he meets an accountant Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), a plumber Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell), an ex-telephone exchange staffer Lottie Bell (Rakhee Thakrar) and a stand-up comic Larry Chucklesworth (Rich Fulcher). Just like Wonka, they also stayed at Scrubbit’s place and signed the contract without reading the finer details. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

The characters in WONKA are based on the ones created by Roald Dahl but Paul King’s story is original and imaginative. Simon Farnaby and Paul King’s screenplay is entertaining and riddled with some fascinating and funny sequences that will appeal to kids and families. The dialogues add to the fun.

Paul King’s direction is easy to comprehend. He has given the film a Disney-style treatment and hence, there’s a lot of music, scary and yet funny antagonists, touching scenes and of course, fantasy. A few scenes stand out like Noodles having chocolate for the first time. The scene at the zoo is moving and also very cute. The climax is lovely.

On the flipside, the interest drops in the middle portions. Also, it is understandable that a film like this will have cinematic liberties. Yet, to see Wonka doing so much magic is difficult to digest. He could have actually pulled himself out of poverty and misery, considering what he was able to achieve with his magic tricks!

Speaking of performances, Timothée Chalamet is simply charming. He handles the part with ease and ensures no one compares him with Johnny Depp, whose Wonka act in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY [2005] is legendary. Calah Lane is sweet and an actor to watch out for. Tom Davis and Olivia Colman are too good, especially when they begin their love affair. Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Mathew Baynton are fine as the villains. Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Carter, Natasha Rothwell, Rakhee Thakrar and Rich Fulcher lend able support. Rowan Atkinson (Father Julius) and Hugh Grant (Oompa-Loopma) add to the star value with their cameos.

Joby Talbot and Neil Hannon’s music is well-woven into the narrative. A few songs that are memorable are ‘Have You Got A Sweet Tooth’ and ‘For A Moment’. Chung-hoon Chung’s cinematography is splendid. Nathan Crowley’s production design and Lindy Hemming’s costumes are in sync with the film’s fantasy theme. Mark Everson’s editing is neat.

On the whole, WONKA is a sweet, ‘delicious’ entertainer that will appeal to kids and families in metropolitan cities.

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