Wonka review: Chalamet shines as Wonka but Grant's Oompa Loompa falls short in this whimsical drama

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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Wonka review

In our Wonka review we talk about Timothée Chalatmet’s delightful act as Wonka, confusing back stories and things that fell short!

Wonka review: As someone who loves Johnny Depp’s version of Willy Wonka in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ it was tough for me to accept the fact that someone else will be playing the iconic character after him. I was indecisive after the trailer but when I went to watch Wonka, Timothée steals the spotlight from the first frame to the last. From the beginning itself you easily reason with yourself that Depp’s version was different and Timothée’s is completely separate from that. He brings his own perception of the character to the table which makes him the biggest selling points of the film. 

Wonka starts with a young Willy Wonka played by Chalatmet who goes to London with just 12 Sovereigns in his pocket. Out of which, he gives one to a beggar, loses one and the rest he gives to Mrs Scrubbit (Olivia Coleman) to simply get a room at the lodge that she runs. But poor Willy Wonka, who is too naive for this world, gets tricked by her evil mind. She charges him extra money for basic things like showering or having a glass of Gin, which were already available in his room and weren’t mentioned beforehand. So now since he is in her debt, she traps him in the basement of her lodge with many other such residents where they have to do laundry forever. But Willy’s dreams were too big to be trapped in a basement. He wanted to share his chocolate with the world and be the greatest chocolatier who ever existed. But even when he makes it out in the real world, he has to face ‘The Chocolate Cartel’ which basically includes the owners of three big chocolate companies. They are in cahoots and bribe everyone around with chocolate bars, especially the chief of police (Keegan Michael-Kay). They have a vault where they keep all their chocolate and an accounts ledger where all of their corrupt deeds are written. The vault is guarded by a cleric and a group of ‘chocoholic monks’. They threaten Wonka and his friend Noodle (Calah Lane) in so many different ways and try their best so they don’t succeed. 

Also Read: The Archies: A long, mediocre, and mildly entertaining musical

How he and Noodle make their way out of it and make their dream come true is what Wonka revolves around. When the initial announcement of this film happened, everyone was intrigued to see how Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa would really pan out but much to my disappointment, he seems like a mere caricature of the character. He is just himself with green hair and orange skin. That’s about it. He still speaks in a British accent, and has a very human-like feel to him whereas Oompa Loompas in fact are supposed to be alien creatures Wonka finds on an Island. Timothée, on the other hand, has this wonder in his eyes and optimism for life and adventures. Since he plays Wonka even before he becomes famous, he has a certain happiness and pure hearted feel to him, compared to Depp’s dark take on Wonka’s life. He definitely feels like a breath of fresh air. Olivia Coleman is intimidating as Mrs. Scrubbit and commits to her part with conviction. You actually do hate her character for scamming people into staying at her lodge forever. Rowan Atken who plays a corrupt priest in the film barely gets any screen time and both him and Hugh Grant feel like potential wasted. Keegan Micheal-Kay does the best he can as the Chief of Police who works under the whims of the Cartel. 

Everything from the costumes to the sets, brings the magical world of Wonka to life. I especially found the names of the chocolates to be hilarious and adorable at the same time. He has a chocolate called ‘Hair repair eclair’ for hair growth. There’s chocolate that can make you laugh, cry, fall in love, fly away and paint you in a different color. It truly takes you to another world altogether where everything from the chocolate itself, the hamper that it comes in, to the shop itself is edible.

While the back stories of this film and Depp’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are totally different and confuse you in a way, I still feel both of them suit each story’s arc and theme. Overall, Wonka is a whimsical drama and an entertaining musical with nostalgia, emotions and all shades of color popping out of the screen that lures you beautifully into this world. There’s a line at the end of the film ‘It's not the Chocolate that matters, it’s who you share it with’. That’s enough for a Wonka loyalist to get teary eyed and feel like diving deep into the story once you’re back home as well. 

Wonka is currently playing at a theatre near you!

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