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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 18, 2023



TO BE HONEST, we really thought Timothee Chalamet is overrated in “Call Me By Your Name”, “Dune” and his other films. 

But now, we really enjoyed his exuberant performance as “Wonka”, a prequel to the two previous films made on Roald Dahl’s iconic 1964 kiddie book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

He’s definitely better suited to the role than the earlier movies that Gene Wilder did in 1971 or Johnny Depp in 2005.

“Wonka” is directed by Paul King, who did the “Paddington” films about a lovable talking bear. 

It’s a crowd pleasing musical comedy showing Willy Wonka (Timothee), after traveling around the world to hone his culinary skills, arriving in a big city to start his own chocolate shop.  

The opening number is a breezy song which ends with Wonka distributing his chocolates that can make people levitate.

But as tough luck would have it, he signs up to stay at laundry-inn of the shady Mrs. Scrubitt (Olivia Colman). 

Along with her looming, deep voiced henchman (Tom Davis), she easily tricks him, since he is no read, no write, to sign a contract with her that actually makes him her slave. 

Also tricked by Mrs. Scrubbit to work in her sweatshop are Noodle (Calah Lane), a resourceful orphan girl; Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), an accountant; Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell), a plumber, Lottie (Rakhee Thakrar), a telephone operator and Larry Chucklesworth (Rich Fulcher), a comedian.

Wonka also meets the top three chocolate makers: Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Ficklegruber (Matthew Baynton).  

They form a chocolate mafia and are determined to eliminate all threats from competitors like Wonka. 

They operate in a church run by Father Julius (Mr. Bean) and his chocoholic monks.

They connive with the Chief of Police (Keegan Michael), who is a chocolate addict, to prevent Wonka from setting up his own choco shop. 

A diminutive orange man also shows up to steal his chocs, an Oompa Loompa named Lofty (Hugh Grant). Wonka faces a lot of trials and obstacles from so many evil villains, but this is a feel good movie, so he successfully hurdles all the problems that crop up in his way to his rocky road to success. 

The breezy movie benefits from its wonderful, big ensemble cast and refreshing touches of humor specially from Olivia Colman as a cartoonish villain. 

Timothee is really cute and charming as the good-hearted Wonka and we really cheer for him and his delightful allies when they get to defeat the bad guys.

We also like the film’s whimsical production design inspired by pop-up kiddie books.

The new musical numbers by Neil Hannon are pleasantly mounted and generally uplifting, including the reworkings of two songs from the 1971 film, “Pure Imagination” and “Oompa Loompa”.

It’s all very entertaining and will put you in cheerful holiday mood.