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‘Wonka’ is scrumdiddlyumptious

"Wonka" has a brown top hat, a purple velvet tailcoat, a cane and a dream of finally showing the inner workings of the world's most notable chocolatier, Willy Wonka. Even though the odds were pressed up against the film, "Wonka" defies them all, making a film that was astonishingly scrumdiddlyumptious from start to finish. 

The titular character, played by Oscar-nominated Timothée Chalamet, first originated in Roald Dahl's children's novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Many decades later, the character has his own focus and origin story. The film shows where his heart and imaginative curiosity came from and his tough journey to become the character familiar to most.  

Paul King, director of "Paddington," brings his signature tone to the film – cozy and delightful and a good sense of sarcasm throughout. Plus, the film's script lets characters speak at cartoonishly rapid paces, jamming in as many zany words as one can possibly imagine. 

Following the iconic candy-making predecessors of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp, Chalamet's take on the role hits the sweet spot. Yet it's a different sweet spot, as Chalamet offers a more optimistic Wonka, one that is a bit more gullible and less haunting. Chalamet brings his own appealing charm to snack on, a charm that isn't often seen in his other, more serious work. 

But apart from its predecessors, "Wonka" follows several separate paths in its plot. While the first two focused more on little boy hero Charlie and the dangers of being a "bad nut," this prequel serves as the dangers of overt capitalism, distinctly in the chocolate industry. In a sense, the film allows the chocolate conglomerates to be the "bad nuts," as they don't make it easy for Wonka to make his candy dreams come true. 

This adversity Wonka goes through is extraordinary to watch, as the film has some creative fun with it. For example, this inversive world fines those for daydreaming, which Wonka is consistently doing. So naturally, the young, spry Wonka has to pay up and lose some valuable cash. Then, as cartoonish as it seems, a trio of elitist chocolate snobs come in – Slugworth, Prodnose and Fickelgruber – determined to make sure that no other person in town tries to sell their chocolate other than their own. 

King also made the daring decision to make the film a musical. Even though the past two renditions of the Roald Dahl story were musicals, modern musicals are not doing so well at the box office, as recently as "Dear Evan Hansen" and Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story." But with that precaution, the songs did not come out to be overwhelming in quantity or quality. Then, what makes them not underwhelming is the revival of two original songs from the 1971 version – the bopping "Oompa Loompa" and the ever so soft and sweet "Pure Imagination." 

Chalamet isn't the most brilliant singer, but he managed substantially well. Most songs offer necessary sentiment, such as "A World of Your Own" and "For A Moment." Meanwhile, songs like "A Hatful of Dreams" and "You've Never Had Chocolate Like This," present the optimistic values the film adores to explore upon. Though the songs show some relevance to the film's progress, the film could have used a bit more eccentric, comical songs. 

On the other hand, star power was not lacking in this film's cast. Oscar-winner Olivia Colman plays an up-to-no-good laundress, and comedian Keegan-Michael Key is a chocolate-addicted cop. Other notable names include Rowan Atkinson, Matt Lucas and Hugh Grant. 

As many can agree, Hugh Grant playing Lofty, the green-haired, orange-faced Oompa Loompa, was quite the casting choice. His character contrasted with Wonka's sunny personality, even though much more on-screen chemistry was given to Noodle (Calah Lane), Wonka's little kid sidekick.  

And though there isn't a glorious chocolate factory to catch the visual eye like there was in the previous two installments, the overall production design is stunning beyond belief. This unique, imaginative world has the fondness of a pop-up book, and watching it unfold brings out the inner child within. 

Everyone can enjoy "Wonka," essentially those of any age, with or without a sweet tooth. Don't let the expectations of the film being a musical and a prequel get in the way of enjoying this whimsical and fun holiday watch. During an age where prequels are on the rise, this one sets a different standard. A standard in which some ingredient changes are made to the story, but the pure imagination we know and love remains strong. 


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