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Wonka is quirky, but not quirky enough

The prequel features chocolate, singing and most importantly, Timothée Chalamet

Ever since Timothée Chalamet catapulted to fame in 2017 when he starred in Call Me By Your Name (2017), he has played a wide range of roles and has been praised for every one of them.

He’s shapeshifted into the infamous Darcy in Little Women (2019), a man suffering from drug addiction in Beautiful Boy (2018), a brooding and self-centred smolderer in Lady Bird (2017) and even a cannibal in Bones and All (2022). And that’s just to name a few of them. 

Next up on Chalamet’s list of characters to conquer: Willy Wonka. 

Wonka is a prequel to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and follows a young Willy on his quest to open his very own chocolate factory, with the ultimate goal of seeing his late mother again because of a promise she made to him before she died.

However, Willy’s journey to opening is faced with numerous obstacles, including being kidnapped into a laundry shop, the dangerous actions of the “chocolate cartel” of the city and even sometimes Willy’s own naive attitude.  

Overall, the film is expectedly lighthearted, complete with bright colours, funky transitions and even a giraffe. The plot, though at times absurd, is intriguing and introduces characters like the admirable orphan Noodle, whom Willy quickly befriends. Willy’s trusting demeanor paired with Noodle’s strong and quick-witted attitude creates a pair that we want to root for throughout the film.

Wonka, which is a musical, features some catchy tunes such as “Scrub Scrub” and “Pure Imagination” from the original 1971 film. It also sees Chalamet singing a solo, “You’ve Never Had Chocolate Like This.” But though some songs are endearing, they also are also overproduced and many do little to advance the plot.    

Wonka comes at an interesting time when some studios are disguising the fact that movies are musicals when being advertised. This is likely due to the fact that many live-action musicals like Dear Evan Hansen, Cats and West Side Story underperformed with audiences. 

Wonka is one such movie that disguised its musicality in the trailer and beyond. In fact, director Paul King described it as “more like a movie with songs.”

Though musicals seem to be pushing movie-goers away, Chalamet certainly counteracts that by drawing them in. I don’t consider myself much of a film nerd, but if Chalamet is in the movie, you best believe that I will be going to see it.

I’m certainly not alone in my love of Chalamet—the 28-year-old actor has nearly 19 million followers on Instagram and has been compared to Leonardo DiCaprio. Some fans are even so obsessed that they have declared they want Chalamet to run them over with a car, and producer Mary Parent described him as having “that intangible thing that doesn’t come along very often.”

Chalamet displays many strengths in the role of Willy, fully embracing the quirky spirit of the character, complete with silly hand movements and crazy eyes. It’s hard to believe the goofy man wearing high-waisted pants and flying through the air is the same person in a relationship with Kylie Jenner. 

But though Chalamet has the right spirit and is miles better than Johnny Depp’s creepy 2005 rendition of the role, there is still something missing from Willy in the film; he isn’t quite crazy enough. At times he acts ridiculous out of nowhere but it’s not consistent, and there is little explanation for his otherworldly creativity in the world of chocolate. 

Despite some shortcomings, the film still prevails, and so far it has made approximately $400 million at the box office. Full of lighthearted ridiculousness and set in a winter wonderland, it’s a great movie to see if you want to feel a bit more enthusiastic about the current cold weather.

Perfect for small children and university students alike, Wonka is a film full of fun that will make you laugh and dance and will have your mouth watering for chocolate.


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