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  • Anna Rosciszewski

I Wasn't Expecting to Cry Watching "Wonka"

Perhaps it was the fact that I had to witness Timothée Chalamet sad or maybe my maturity levels are just so low that I cry watching a children’s musical comedy— the prequel to Roald Dahl’s 1964 fantastic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The nostalgia that this movie brought me was immense, and I know that if I had the chance to have seen it back in my Roald Dahl phase, I would have quite possibly cried for several days. However, watching this movie as a teenage girl, I acknowledge that my strongest, if not sole, motivation to see this movie was Timothée Chalamet.



Paul King knew exactly what he was doing when contriving the new face of Willy Wonka, casting Chalamet, the actor who has been dominating Hollywood and TikTok since his big debut in Call Me By Your Name. Reminiscing on Call Me By Your Name, I sure hope Chalamet is not cast anytime soon in a re-adaptation of another one of Roald Dahl’s beloved novels, James and The Giant Peach.  


I truly wasn’t expecting his performance in Wonka after hearing the negative reactions to the trailer. Many critics complained of a forced “over acting” and cheesy performance. Acting in a light-hearted musical by the same man who directed Paddington, Chalamet’s reputation as a serious actor ultimately betrayed him to his early critics and those who walked out of the theater the moment they heard him sing. The usually “cool” Chalamet was veritably doomed for his sizable fan base the moment the trailer was released. In my opinion, he was natural enough for the role, and that his acting— and singing, for that matter— seamlessly fit the atmosphere of the movie, though it took a bit of time to get used to the new musical theater side of him. Moreover, I was surprised to see that his version of Wonka, contrary to Gene Wilder’s and Johnny Depp’s earlier renditions of the eccentric character, was a lot less sinister in nature and more true to the Wonka I had envisioned through rose colored glasses when I first read the novel. The whole time I wondered how this young Wonka could possibly turn into the wicked figure we know from the aforementioned movies.


Though not comparable to the previous Wonkas because of a completely different character profile and movie plot, I believe that Timothée Chalamet’s version nonetheless paid homage to Willy’s legacy.



There was a lot that went on in this movie. Though Wonka was aesthetically pleasing and had a compelling storyline as a whole, the plot contained many logical inconsistencies that left me a bit weary. Because of the movie’s fantastic and fast-paced nature, Wonka and his friends encounter a new obstacle every couple of minutes, which reminds a bit of Jumanji. Moreover, as a talented magician and skilled chocolatier, the fact that he could not read nor manage to escape the most obvious situations, while managing to engineer the elaborate schemes otherwise, did not add up. Another inconsistency that bothered me was that he somehow seemed to be able to store years’ worth of ingredients in his already-full suitcase, enough to open a shop entirely made of chocolate. The only feasible explanation I can conjure up is magic as Wonka is, afterall, a children’s action movie, and its creators didn’t feel the need to fill the gaps utilized to advance the plot. Every little detail that didn’t make perfect sense served to reveal hidden truths and get the characters out of trouble. However, I won’t defend the backstory of Wonka’s mother and her promise to reveal the secret of chocolate making, which I would assume he’s figured out by himself, seeing that his chocolate concoctions appear a lot more elaborate than his mother’s. It would have been a lot more satisfying if she actually had a secret about chocolate making to reveal, instead of the cheesy and frankly disappointing moral we got at the end. 


Wonka’s central conflict and characters were intriguing and original. In this fictional world, the chocolate industry is a monopoly, a cartel controlled by three miserly chocolate makers. I thought it was interesting that chocolate served as a symbol for drugs and corruption, despite this movie being for children. The audience sees the evil effects of chocolate on individuals who are meant to serve the community honestly, like the police chief with a ruinous chocolate obsession, an unprincipled priest, and his five-hundred chocolate fanatic monks. Furthermore, the owners of the boarding house where Wonka stays, the overarching antagonists, are grotesque and equally corrupt and try to trick dwellers into indentured servitude. The manipulation of the three chocolate tycoons, along with the greed of the housemasters, causes Wonka to have trouble establishing his business in the Galleries Gourmet, a famed square of chocolate shops. Coming from his distant travels, the friends that he makes in this new town prove instrumental in overcoming their tricks. The only interesting one is Noodle as she has a significant sub plot of her own: finding her family, and unknowingly entangled in the dealings of one of the villains. The rest of Wonka’s allies, however, are pretty bland and clichéd. The double-dealing priest, played by Rowan Atkinson, didn’t leave any sort of lasting impression on me. I was honestly expecting more Oompa Loompa action in this movie, but was thoroughly disappointed with the lonely presence of the miniature Hugh Grant. Overall, I thought the characters were interesting enough, but Wonka and the housemasters were the ones that really stood out to me as providing any sort of worthwhile humor and entertainment for this movie. 


I would recommend Wonka to anyone who likes musicals and appreciates the other Willy Wonka movies, or to anyone who can’t miss a Timothée Chalamet movie (like me, sorry). If you have any little siblings or cousins, I think it would be worth taking them to see this film as it is lighthearted and filled with magical moments and visuals. Would I watch it again?

I may have enjoyed, and even shed a couple tears, watching Chalamet’s version of Willy Wonka, but definitely not. Mel Staurt’s Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory is far more worth the watch in my opinion. Overall, I give Wonka 2.5 stars out of 5. 


Wonka was released by Warner Bros. and first shown in theaters on December 15th, 2023. It is rated PG and runs for 116 minutes. 

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