THE WONKA-VERSE rolled into London last night, closely followed by the first reviews for Timothée Chalamet’s take on the top-hatted choco-magnate.
Director and co-writer Paul King appears to have pulled off another Paddington-esque success for his origin story, a prequel to the incredibly popular 1971 Gene Wilder-fronted Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. While the full, official reviews are yet to drop, here’s a selection of what people have been saying about the film that’s set to dominate cinema screens this Christmas:
Empire’s Chris Hewitt held a soft launch of his rapturous views of Wonka, pre-embargo, that he has now clarified: “There are few greater feelings in this life than when you fall in love with a movie. Wildly, joyously, headly over heelsly…Yes, it’s Wonka. I feel Paul King is now in the same territory as Jim Cameron: you write him off at your peril. It’s an absolute delight—warm and wonderful and weird. Neil Hannon’s songs are ace, Timmy Two Meats delivers, and it reduced me to a sodden mess.”
Variety’s Courtney Howard was equally as effusive. “Wonka is a winning confection, filled with perfect amounts of charm, whimsy & poignancy, powered by pure imagination & bright, nimble musical numbers. Timothée Chalamet is a charisma factory. His full committal is intoxicating. Hugh Grant in exceptional IDGAF mode.”
BFI’s Lou Thomas said: “Really enjoyed Wonka, a large, lavish musical production of great wit, terrific visual splendour and many delightfully villainous supporting characters. As for Timothée Chalamet, he’s a suitably oddball chocolatier and a fitting new Willy. Fun times.”
Good Day Chicago’s Jake Hamilton was into it, too. “If I’m being honest: I wasn’t expecting much when I walked into Wonka. But I fell in love with a charming, heartfelt and pretty spectacular musical that is a loving tribute to everything we love about the ‘71 original. Chalamet is unbelievably fun and charismatic as Wonka.”
However, some people felt a little put out that the trailers didn’t do enough to inform people that it was a musical. Little White Lies’ Hannah Strong said: “Wonka has 9 songs it’s a musical everyone who said it wasn’t owes me 10 penny chews…Unfortunately 7/9 of the songs are bad and I could have done without the repeated fat jokes but otherwise Wonka is a fun time!! Very silly but earnest! I liked it!”
Roger Ebert’s Robert Daniels enjoyed the film, but also picked up on some distasteful fat jokes: “I surprisingly, mostly, enjoyed Wonka. Timothée Chalamet is a really gifted comedic actor, smartly leveraging his star persona for laughs. The staging is good and there’s lots of heart and whimsy. I did not however like the barrage of fat jokes. Poor form in a delightful film…Any time they hit the “fat” bit, my theater went dead silent. A really perplexing choice for a running gag.”
Meanwhile, The Wrap’s Scott Mendelson appeared to focus on the plight of the Ooompa Loompas: “ I was not expecting Wonka to be the most realistic movie about human trafficking opening in wide theatrical release this year. Not a criticism, but also not a joke.”
And Screen Daily’s Ellie Calnan gave a shout out for the orange-and-green dream that is Hugh Grant as the main Oompa Loompa: “Great, camp fun with all the loveliness of a festive release. Timothee Chalamet denialists will be pleasantly surprised but of course it is Hugh Grant who steals the show…”
A version of this story originally appeared on Esquire UK.