Death by Chocolate


Director: Paul King

Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Carter, Sally Hawkins, Matt Lucas, Tom Davis, Calah Lane, Paterson Joseph, Matthew Baynton, Freya Parker, Natasha Rothwell

Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Director Paul King’s very 21st century remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) starring Gene Wilder gets a Christmas shine for the new 2023 version, with the hot young star Timothee Chalamet (Dune, Little Women, The French Dispatch) taking on the part of Willy Wonka in this fantastic remake simply titled Wonka.

Chalamet, who rose to fame in his Oscar nominated role in the gorgeous 2017 film Call Me By Your Name, takes on the hapless, illiterate but slightly naïve Willy Wonka as he journeys as a young man to a magical new city to attempt to start up a Chocolate shop. This Wonka version is pristine with no kinks or crazy mania hidden beneath the depths unlike Johnny Depp’s truly sociopathic portrait of the character and also without the comedic panache of the legendary Gene Wilder.

Wonka is supported by a varied cast including Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) as the ruthless landlady Mrs Scrubitt, Calah Lane as the hopeful orphan Noodle and Keegan-Michael Key (Get Out, The Disaster Artist) as the corrupt Chief of police who secretly aids the evil and malignant chocolate cartel comprising of Slugworth played by Paterson Joseph, Prodnose played by Matt Lucas and a wonderful Mathew Baynton as the snobbish Fickelgruber, who absolutely hates the poor.

Wonka starts off beautifully with gorgeous costumes and sets but doesn’t quite sparkle enough until the fortunate arrival of the comedic genius of Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as the chocolate stealing green and orange Oompa-Loompa who is absolutely terrific as the cocktail swirling, suitcase carrying diminutive man who becomes an unlikely ally of Willy Wonka and his delicious dreams.

Hugh Grant with years of cinematic experience literally saves Wonka the film from becoming ordinary, by making that Oompa-Loompa sophisticated, shrewd and witty. A performance which elevates the film so much that the distributors for Warner Brothers had to rework the trailer for Wonka to include the precious scenes between Wonka and the lofty Oompa-Loompa.

Unfortunately, Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, The Shape of Water) does not have sufficient screen time as Wonka’s beloved mother, which would have created the emotional pull that this film desperately needed.

Calah Lane is enlightening as Noodle the orphan girl who Wonka befriends as she desperately tries to discover her birth mother’s identity while the talented Olivia Colman is suitably hideous as the unscrupulous Mrs Scrubbitt whose performance mirrors that of Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables.

Paddington director Paul King ticks all the confectionary boxes to make a highly conventional Wonka which will makes for joyous holiday entertainment but it won’t be remembered as an exceptional musical.

Wonka is a recommended family film and audiences should see it purely for the delightful Hugh Grant who literally saves this fantasy musical from suffering the same fate as Cats.

As a mock Victorian musical Wonka gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is light hearted family entertainment.

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