I’ve said elsewhere that my late father had a habit of never liking remakes. Bedazzled, The Italian Job, Miracle On 34th Street, The Day Of The Jackal…he always said “it’s not as good as the original”. He used to say that even after we’d said “but you haven’t seen the new one yet Dad”. Like a lot of other people he preferred Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory over the more accurately titled Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Personally speaking, I liked both. To me it’s a bit like enjoying burgers and bananas; they are different but it is possible to like both.
So maybe that is why they decided to make a prequel. The Mel Stuart/Gene Wilder version has a lot of fans to this day. More than the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp outing which scored 6.7 on IMDb as opposed to 7.8 for the original. However, the Tim Burton version remains the highest-grossing film adaption based on a Roald Dahl novel as well as being Tim Burton’s second-highest-grossing film so far. I suppose it could be partly due to the first one coming out in 1971 so it holds childhood memories for a lot more people than one which came out in 2005.
A Good Chocolate Should Be Simple
Not everyone enjoyed the original though. Perhaps the highest profile detractor was the author, Roald Dahl. He disowned the film and was “infuriated” by the plot deviations and considered the music to be “saccharine, sappy, and sentimental”. He was also disappointed because the film “placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie” and because Gene Wilder was cast as Wonka instead of Spike Milligan. I will admit that Gene Wilder was excellent as Willy Wonka but, oh my god…can you imagine what it would have been like if it had been Spike Milligan!
Rather than trying to catch lightening in a bottle for a second time, the obvious thing to do is to take the idea and, perhaps, a few other bits and pieces and work from there. Now I can’t pretend that that is what was actually going through everybody’s mind in the production company but I can imagine it could be! Let’s be honest, while Roald Dahl thought the music was “saccharine, sappy and sentimental” there were some iconic tunes and when you hear Pure Imagination starting it does raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Besides, Dahl was a massive anti-Semite and racist so what does he know.
Do NOT Sell Chocolate In This Town!
So how does the new Wonka world addition work out? To my mind, very well. I’d never thought of Timothée Chalamet as a song and dance man but I’ve only seen him in The French Dispatch and Dune. In the end he was very good. I half expected him to be surrounded by dancers with his legs out of shot but he was very capable. I’d heard that it was between Timothée and Tom Holland in the final reckoning. Tom was a gymnast and had formally played Billy Elliot so there must have been something other than dancing skill that separated them.
The rest of the cast were excellent. The triumvirate of evil chocolatiers Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Fickelgruber (Mathew Boynton), and Prodnose (Matt Smith) were delightfully evil as were Mrs Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and Bleacher (Tom Davis). Among all those it seems so easy to overlook people like Rowan Atkinson as the corrupt priest and Keegan-Michael Kay as the rapidly expanding Chief of Police but it was mainly because there were so many “isn’t that thingy?” moments. And to wrap things up there is Hugh Grant as Lofty the Oompa-Loompa. To be honest he wasn’t in as much as I would have liked but make sure you stay for his song at the start of the beginning of the credits.
Movie Grade: A+
We have 3 Peetimes for Wonka. Learn more
About The Peetimes
This movie opened in the UK a week earlier than the US. Here are some early Peetimes.
Yes, there are extra scenes during the end credits of Wonka.
|[PG] Some Violence | Mild Language | Thematic Elements
|December 15, 2023
|Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant
|Simon Farnaby, Paul King, Roald Dahl
|Adventure | Comedy | Family
With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!