Review Roundup: Timothée Chalamet Leads WONKA Movie Musical Prequel; What Do Critics Think?

Wonka is set to open in theaters on December 15.

By: Dec. 04, 2023
Review Roundup: Timothée Chalamet Leads WONKA Movie Musical Prequel; What Do Critics Think?
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Willy Wonka is back in the new musical prequel starring Timothée Chalamet.

Based on the character at the center of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, “Wonka” tells the wondrous story of how a young chocolate-maker, armed with nothing but a hatful of dreams, manages to change the world, one delectable bite at a time.

From Paul King, writer/director of the “Paddington” films, David Heyman and producers Alexandra Derbyshire and Luke Kelly (“Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical”), comes an intoxicating mix of magic and music, mayhem and emotion.

It also stars Calah Lane, Keegan-Michael Key, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carter, with Oscar winner Olivia Colman and Hugh Grant. The film also stars Natasha Rothwell, Rich Fulcher, Rakhee Thakrar, Tom Davis, and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

Neil Hannon of the band The Divine Comedy wrote the original songs for the film, with a score by Joby Talbot.

Ahead of the film's December 15 release in theaters, check out what critics thought of the film below! Check back as more reviews continue to drop.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety: "As a movie, 'Wonka' may be the squarest big-scale Hollywood musical in decades. How square is it? In an era that has given us such visionary next-level musicals as 'La La Land,' 'Moulin Rouge!,' and the shockingly underrated 'The Greatest Showman,' as well as such hip and vibrant Broadway adaptations as 'Chicago,' 'Hairspray,' 'In the Heights,' 'Mamma Mia!,' 'Les Misérables,' and “Rent,' 'Wonka,' ... plays like a more visually limber version of some singing-and-dancing relic from the late-studio-system era of 'Oliver!' (1968) and 'Scrooge' (1970). It’s so square it makes 'Mary Poppins Returns' look edgy.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: "King’s claim that his star has a voice like Bing Crosby’s is a stretch, but while Chalamet’s vocals are on the thin side, they’re tuneful enough. He does better with dance duties, executing choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s moves — from vigorous tap and soft-shoe to more athletic turns — with nimble flair and a joy that the actor’s fans will likely find contagious. I just wish I found the performance more infectious overall."

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: "On paper, it is the worst possible idea: a new musical-prequel origin myth for Willy Wonka, the reclusive top-hatted chocolatier from Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ... But in the hands of Brit-cinema’s new kings of comedy, writer Simon Farnaby and writer-director Paul King (who have already worked their magic on Paddington), this pre-Wonka is an absolute Christmas treat; it’s spectacular, imaginative, sweet-natured and funny."

Nicholas Barber, BBC: "It doesn't convince you that Willy's back story ever needed to be told. Slotting together bits from Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd, Oliver Twist, and more besides, it's less like a finely crafted chocolate gateau than one of those selection boxes that contains several brand-name chocolate bars, all wrapped in garish plastic packaging."

Tom Jorgensen, IGN: "It’s the second attempt in two years at adapting a beloved Dahl classic into a movie musical; while Netflix’s Matilda benefited from drafting off the blueprint of a Tony-winning stage play, I’m happy to say that Wonka is able to mostly resist the urge to dip into the songbook of the 1971 original and forge its own compositional path."

William Bibbiani, The Wrap: "There are songs in “Wonka,” but outside of the revival of “Pure Imagination,” none of them strike a chord. There’s also a plot involving sabotaged chocolates, a secret conspiracy and an elaborate heist, but it doesn’t seem like we’re really supposed to care. We’re just supposed to consume."

Robbie Collin, Telegraph: "Devout Wonkarians are rewarded with nods and winks: a turn of phrase here, a visual echo there, or a tinkling of Pure Imagination in Toby Talbot’s magical score. (The suite of new songs, by Talbot and his old Divine Comedy collaborator Neil Hannon, are witty and wondrous: a set of instant, hear-once, hum-forever classics.) Otherwise, though, the film largely just gets on with its own Great Chocolate Caper thing."

David Ehrlich, IndieWire: "Chief among those shortcomings would have to be Chalamet’s singing voice, a reedy instrument that sounds as magically enhanced as any of Willy’s confections, but makes up in high school theater-like enthusiasm what it lacks in Broadway-level tone. If 'Wonka' is heightened enough to exist at the exact midpoint between the 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'The Greatest Showman,' Chalamet’s raw excitability helps ground the movie in something real enough to keep it from floating away."

Watch the trailer for the film here:

To read more reviews, click here!


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