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“Wonka:” a heartwarming family tale

Warner Bros.
“Wonka” is now in theaters. The movie is rated PG-13 and stars Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka and Hugh Grant as an Oompa‑Loompa. Movie poster from Warner Bros.

“Wonka” is the third interpretation of the iconic character Willy Wonka and his infamous chocolate factory on the big screen. With Paul King as director, “Wonka” stars Timothée Chalamet as the title character Willy Wonka, and Calah Lane as a secondary character new to the franchise, Noodle. 

This time around, the story is not about Charlie and other kids visiting the chocolate factory, but a prequel about how Wonka became the famous chocolate maker. “Wonka” follows Wonka trying to find a new footing in England with his unique set of chocolate-making skills. Wonka finds trouble when three other chocolate tycoons want to put an end to his business, leaving Wonka with hard decisions to make.

To start, Chalamet did a fantastic job at portraying the character of Wonka on the big screen. After seeing Chalamet act in much more serious roles such as “Dune” and “Interstellar,” I was skeptical about how well Chalamet would be able to play such a silly role as Wonka. But, to my surprise, Chalamet has a very promising range of acting, keeping Wonka feeling like the character portrayed by previous actors Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp.

“Wonka” was a very fun and entertaining movie to watch with family. I could not ask for anything more with a movie about a magical chocolate factory. There were a very limited amount of times in the movie where I was not heavily invested in the story. This film was weird in the best way possible and it played into its own silliness of the movie.

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I did not look very much into this movie before going to see it, so when the movie started with Chalamet singing a musical number, I was surprised. This set the lighthearted tone that the movie would follow while staying a musical. Chalamet has a very nice voice and so do the other characters that have musical numbers. So where I normally would not find much fun with a musical movie, I found myself enjoying this one.

One of my favorite things about this movie is just the character of Wonka. He has so many layers to him, from his past to his chocolate, that makes him so interesting. It was fun to see all of the different chocolates he makes and the effects they have on people, whether it was making them grow blue mustaches or making them fly. 

This movie does well when it leans into its goofy side. I found myself finding characters like Keegan-Michael Key’s chocolate-addicted police officer very funny. Same thing with Hugh Grant’s Oompa-Loompa, who was just another background character with very limited screen time. But, when either of these characters were on screen, I knew that it would be a comedic scene that would leave me laughing. When you are watching a movie where the gimmick with the main character is that his chocolates can make you fly and do other impossible things, you would hope most of the movie is goofy like that, which it mostly delivers. 

The emotional scenes were also pleasantly surprising in this movie. I was not expecting this movie to have much heart to it but the two main characters, Wonka and Noodle, both have some emotional storyline going for them. Whenever these are brought into the movie, it has a nice presence that make this more than a family comedy. By the end, these storylines are very heartfelt and bring the story to a nice conclusion.

“Wonka” had an amazing production design as well. You could tell that King had a creative vision for the sets and setting. In the streets and shops of England, it was very bland. But, Wonka brings in a sense of color with his magical chocolate, and all of the sets look good. Wonka and his shop stood out colorfully in a crowd of colorless other shops. Not only was this shown through the production design, but through the characters as well. Wonka has a very mysterious and humorous personality that is enjoyable to watch, while the other tycoons competing with Wonka have bland and strongly entitled and purposefully annoying personalities.

My main criticism of “Wonka” is that some of the story and one of the conflicts felt useless. There is a specific reoccurring conflict with Wonka and his friends where they are in debt. To get out of debt, they are essentially indentured servants to an entitled, greedy couple. This eventually ties into the main conflict, but it feels very forced. The writers seemed as though they wanted to have a conflict for the first act of the movie that could be shoehorned into the main conflict towards the end of the movie. A counterpoint could be that this conflict introduced most of the side characters, but they could have been introduced in multiple other ways that would have made sense as well, and some were not needed in the first place.

Another one of my negatives with this film was that a few of the visual effects looked bad. There were not many bad ones, but some of the CGI (Computer-generated imagery) shots felt like they were not done very well or were rushed. This made some small parts of the movie hard to watch because it just looked very fake. But, this was not something that would make or break the experience of “Wonka.” This was just something small I noticed while watching.

Overall, “Wonka” was a very fun film. It had a strong plot and interesting characters and conflict. With great production and musical numbers, “Wonka” is sure to entertain most families who want to have a good time at the movies this holiday season.

“Wonka” scores 4/5 stars from me.


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About the Contributor
Nolan McNulty, Staff Reporter
Nolan McNulty is a junior at Ankeny High School. In his free time, Nolan likes to hang out with his friends and family, watch movies, and lift weights. He plans on going to the University of Iowa after high school. A fun fact about Nolan is that he enjoys listening to rap music.
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