Oompa loompa doompety doo – I have a half-baked prequel for you.
Wonka is a fascinating little film. It’s not another adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Rather, this is the origin story of the legendary eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka. This film tells an original story set years before Wonka sends out five golden tickets in his candy bars and gives a tour of his factory. It’s not a story anyone asked for, but if a film can tell a story well, that’s all that matters.
Furthermore, Wonka is a Paul King confection. King is the director of the phenomenal Paddington films. We also have Timothée Chalamet, one of the industry’s most popular young actors, in the title role, with an all-star supporting cast that includes Olivia Colman, Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Grant. How could this movie go wrong?
Well, it all starts with trying to capitalize on the success of an age-old story and approaching it with the sensibility of a modern event film, but in the process losing all of the charm that made the 1971 film the masterpiece it was is.
This is a prequel that borrows heavily from that film. It features the same kind of Oompa Loompas with the same song, only this time we have the British charm of Hugh Grant chewing up the scenery in a role he hated so much. However, it doesn’t compare to this film at all. It’s better than Tim Burton’s strangely dark 2005 adaptation, but Wonka is overshadowed by the 1971 film for many reasons. While the original film definitely has its dark moments, it’s surprising how mean-spirited this film can seem. Dahl’s original story was fun because it featured spoiled children facing consequences for their own terrible behavior. However, in “Wonka,” a lot of nice characters are coerced and attempted to murder them, which is significantly less pleasant to watch.
I’ve seen praise for Wonka’s carefree nature and family fun, but neither quality is present. We have evil villains in this film like Mrs. Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and Arthur Slugworth (Paterson Joseph). While family films can have dark villains, the way the film deals with slavery and poor people left a bad taste in my mouth. The same goes for a running gag in the film involving Keegan-Michael Key’s character, the police chief, who becomes increasingly difficult as the film progresses. Putting an actor in a fat suit for a laugh has been outdated since Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. While the film deals with Key’s performance as a cartoonishly overweight man obsessed with chocolate for laughs, laughter was the last thing I wanted to do when I saw this film.
It’s a comedy that doesn’t deliver the laughs you might expect. It’s full of scenes that have King’s humorous charm, and his joy and wonder come through every now and then. Most of the time, however, the jokes aren’t particularly well received. Something the marketing left out is the idea that Wonka is a musical. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s songs have stood the test of time, from “The Candy Man” to “Cheer Up Charlie” to “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” Three days after I saw “Wonka,” a friend asked me if I could recite one of the new songs. And I couldn’t remember any of them for the rest of my life. I remembered a line or two, but the songs in Wonka are completely forgettable. The most memorable musical numbers in this film are from the 1971 film.
Now let’s talk about Chalamet. With his growing popularity, some have grown tired of him as an artist. I think he has given excellent performances in many films, but in this role he was a bit too much for me. It’s a challenging role because you have to find the right level of eccentricity. There are moments where Chalamet gets it right and others where he seems like he’s channeling an over-the-top portrayal of Jim Carrey or Nicolas Cage. An example is a scene in the trailer where he says, “Of course I make chocolate! How do you like it? Dark? White? Crazy? Absolutely crazy?” His unusual delivery is so absurd that I can’t understand why he ended up in the film. It’s a far cry from Gene Wilder’s eerie, naturalistic take on Wonka’s strange personality.
Wonka features songs that sound like something out of your average stage musical. It features lavish production design and some lively moments, such as a scene in which Wonka and his young assistant Noodle (Calah Lane) fly into the air. Lane is excellent in the film and the supporting cast all feel like a natural part of this world King has created.
While there are some funny moments and ideas that work well, it doesn’t capture the magic of Mel Stuart’s “1971.” It can be difficult to accept Chalamet as a character, and overall it’s one of the more mediocre cinematic experiences of the year.
As explained in ComingSoon’s rating guidelines, a rating of 5 corresponds to “Medium”. The positive and negative aspects negate each other and make it a wash.
Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Wonka review.
Source : www.comingsoon.net