(director/writer: Paul King; screenwriter: Simon Farnaby; cinematographer: Chung-Hoon Chung; editor: Mark Everson; music: Joby Talbot; cast: Timothee Chalamet (Willy Wonka), Hugh Grant (Oompa Loompa), Calah Lane (Noodle), Keegan-Michael Key (Police Chief), Paterson Joseph (Slugworth), Matt Lucas (Prodnose), Simon Farnaby (Basil), Matthew Baynton (Fickelgruber), Rakhee Thakrar (Lottie Bell), Kobna Holdbrook Smith (Officer Affable), Tom Davis (Bleacher), Jim Carter (Abacus Crunch), Natasha Rothwell (Piper Benz), Rowan Atkinson (Father Julius), Olivia Colman (Mrs. Scrubbit), Rich Fulcher (Chucklesworth), Sally Hawkins (Willy’s mother); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: David Heyman, Alexandra Derbyshire, Luke Kelly; Warner Bros. Pictures; 2023-USA/UK)

“A Tasty treat.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Brit filmmaker Paul King (“Bunny And The Bull”/”Paddington”) is the writer-director of this sweetly done old-fashioned confection that might be just a tad too sweet and squarish but is a tasty treat with great visuals. It’s a prequel to Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel that was originally filmed in 1971 as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder (a film I enjoyed), and then in 2006 starring a creepy Johnny Depp (in a film I didn’t enjoy).  It’s co-written by Simon Farnaby.

Timothee Chalamet is Willy Wonka, the charismatic dreamer who is the broke good guy, a lover of humanity and an eccentric orphan chocolate-maker. He aims to bring happiness to the world through his chocolates by opening up a chocolate shop. Making chocolate is a skill he learned from his beloved late mom (Sally Hawkins), who showed him the recipes on how to bake her special chocolates.

Willy lands in prewar Paris, the place that houses the world’s best chocolate, the Galeries Gourmet. But the unworldly puckish young man is banned from selling his chocolates by the city’s corrupt elite Chocolate Cartel, who want no competition for their high-priced chocolates and oppose the sale of his better and more affordable ones.

The lad is in deep debt to the coarse, yellow-toothed, scheming villain laundress Scrubbit (Olivia Coleman) and her scoundrel henchman Bleacher (Tom Davis), and is locked-up in her basement and placed in servitude with others to do free labor. But Willy’s helped out of this mess by others in the same workhouse. These good guys are
the former accountant, Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), the telephone operator Lottie Bell (Rakhee Thakrar), the plumber Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell) and the aspiring comedian Larry Chucklesworth (Rich Fulcher).

The story tells of Willy figuring out how to sell his chocolates despite the evil adult capitalists ganging up on him, as he eventually fulfills his dream of opening up a chocolate shop.

To do this the innocent Brit kid must take on the revolting adult capitalists who crookedly run the
Galeries Gourmet- Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton).

The single-minded, one dimensional Willy, is also helped by his friend Noodle (
Calah Lane), an indentured female servant abandoned by her mother at birth at the laundry. From her, Willy learns how to beat the wicked adults at their own game.

Hugh Grant plays a character with
orange skin and green hair, the dandified Oompa Loompa. He keeps stealing Willy’s chocolates until he’s tricked into helping him in his quest.

The film seamlessly blends together story and music, as Chalamet finely sings the song “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film and this film’s lesser new song
“A World of Your Own,”

The sentimental film is enjoyable as solid family fare and makes for a candy-colored colorful watch


REVIEWED ON 12/11/2023  GRADE: B