Certificate: PG

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Calah Lane, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant

Release date: 2023

4 out of 5


Roald Dahl’s beloved chocolate factory-owning character Willy Wonka (immortalised on film by Gene Wilder and later Johnny Depp) gets his own origin story in this lovely confection of a musical that stays true to the original 1971 movie (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) while bringing things up to date with some stunning set pieces (the chocolate shop and a visit to the zoo to milk a giraffe being highlights) and a soundtrack by The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon.

We meet young inventor and chocolatier Willy as he arrives in town to realise his dream of opening a chocolate shop in the auspicious Galeries Gourmet. Unfortunately, his ambitions are soon thwarted – first by Mrs Scrubbit (Colman, in full panto mode), who tricks him into servitude at her laundry, and then by the ‘Chocolate Cartel’ of three businessmen who want to prevent Willy from succeeding and therefore threatening their own corrupt empires.

The colourful movie is packed with a vivid cast of characters, including young orphan Noodle (Lane), the choc-addicted chief of police (Keegan-Michael Key), cartel members Slugworth, Prodnose and Fickelgruber (Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Mathew Baynton) and Scubbit’s henchman Bleacher (Tom Davis), but the movie belongs to Chalamet – who skilfully sings, dances and shines throughout as a charming, loveable Willy – and hilarious scene-stealer Hugh Grant, who provides the orange face of an Oompa-Loompa named Lofty.

Co-written (with Simon Farnaby) and directed by Paul King – the duo who made the superb Paddington 2 – this is almost as warm and fuzzy as that bear tale, making it lighter than previous Willy Wonka cinematic outings (there’s little darkness here to upset younger children). Some may miss those sinister moments, perhaps, but as a magical family movie that really will appeal to all ages, it’s as sweet and addictive as chocolate itself.

Is Wonka suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

This movie is not as dark as Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory or the remake Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. However, younger children may be upset by the plight of orphan Noodle (though she does get a happy ending).

Willy is occasionally in danger, but there is a generally light tone to all the scenes and very little threat. One scene in which Willy and Noodle may drown in a vat of chocolate may scare very young viewers (they do survive, though!)

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