January 11, 2024
Peter Calder

"Wonka" - A Refreshing and Musical Take on the Classic Story (1 minute read)

I was surprised when the first behind-the-scenes photos of Timothée Chalamet in costume as  Willy Wonka leaked a few years ago because I hadn't expected another film or remake of the story to be produced for quite a while.  

The film is a prequel exploring the story of who Willy  Wonka was before the factory.  I think the movie was warm and fun to watch, a classic musical for the family, very reminiscent of the director Paul King's previous work, Paddington.

Something about Wonka heated quite a stir online in the early days of its release.  The film's genre was misdirected or misjudged based on the trailers and teases leading up to the release.  

When you watch the trailer for the film, it seems like it will be a fictional drama about how Willy Wonka gets his chocolatier business started and doesn't hint or depict much of it as a musical with big numbers.  

Many people entering the theatre were shocked when the film burst into song in the first few minutes.  If you aren't a fan of musicals, this is different from the film for you.  Studio marketing personnel have mentioned that the trailer and marketing materials didn't show the musical side of the movie because of a  stigma that people have towards musicals, and in doing so, the strategy they chose would draw more people to watch the film.  

Wonka itself felt like a great, homey film that was needed.  It felt reminiscent of classic musicals like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Annie.  Similarly to Chitty Chatty Bang Bang, we are transported to a magical, fictional place with witty characters and customs.  We follow Wonka, overcoming obstacles, enlightening a whole city, and bringing colourful life to a dreary place.  Similarly to most family films, this musical has something for every age range.  

The one thing that struck me was the parallels the imaginary business in the film has with our current world.  Willy Wonka is a dream-filled entrepreneur trying to disrupt the old-fashioned industry giants.  

Major credit must also be given to the cast of "Wonka" 2023; there are some familiar faces in the most surprising of roles and some new faces to watch out for.  

I would have liked the movie to explore the process of how Wonka created his magical chocolates.  It could've been nice to spend more time in Loompa land to give more detail on how he came up with his ingredients and the process for creating his chocolates.  

But regardless, I'm always up for a big, fun, loud family musical, and Wonka delivered on that.