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HomeMoviesTimothée Chalamet shines as a sunnier 'Wonka' : NPR

Timothée Chalamet shines as a sunnier ‘Wonka’ : NPR

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Timothée Chalamet stars as the long-lasting candyman within the new musical movie Wonka.

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Timothée Chalamet stars as the long-lasting candyman within the new musical movie Wonka.

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Earlier than there was Elf on a Shelf, trying down on youngsters to punish the dangerous and reward the great, there was Willy Wonka. Within the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Manufacturing unit, and within the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Manufacturing unit, Wonka brings 5 youngsters on a tour of his sweet manufacturing facility. 4 of them are deemed dangerous (one is spoiled, one watches an excessive amount of tv, one is fats, one … chews gum?) and discover themselves ejected from the manufacturing facility in humiliating methods. Solely the great boy, Charlie, stays to gather his reward.

Roald Dahl, who wrote each the novel and the screenplay of the 1971 movie, makes this the sort of “for those who’re not good, giants will eat you; if you’re good, you’ll be able to have sweet” story that has been used to scare youngsters straight for ages. Within the new musical movie Wonka, starring Timothée Chalamet as the long-lasting candyman, the ominous rumble behind the story is eliminated in favor of a colourful telling of how Willy Wonka, who got here to the large metropolis with nothing as a younger man, struck it wealthy within the sweets enterprise by dreaming his large goals and defeating his enemies.

Director Paul King, who wrote the screenplay with Simon Farnaby, has some critical chops on this common area of fantastical youngsters’s tales, based mostly on the successes (each essential and business) of the Paddington motion pictures. The tone of this feels related: whimsical and energetic, with a tiny (tiny) drip of acid right here and there to attempt to minimize the sweetness.

This isn’t Gene Wilder’s reclusive, unsettling Willy Wonka, blissful to please you with sweet or flush you down a pipe. Chalamet’s Willy Wonka is an open-hearted child (his age is unspecified, nevertheless it might simply be anyplace between, say, 16 and 28) who desires to share candies with the world and fill the void left by the lack of his mom. However simply as he is about to hunt his fortune, he is tricked into long-term indentured servitude within the grim Dickensian laundry service run by Mrs. Scrubitt (Olivia Colman) and her henchman Bleacher (Tom Davis). In her dingy dungeon, Willy meets her different prisoners: accountant Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), skilled phone operator Lottie Bell (Rakhee Thakrar), plumber Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell), comic Larry Chucklesworth (Wealthy Fulcher), and younger Noodle (Calah Lane), who has been with Mrs. Scrubitt since she was discovered within the laundry chute as a child.

Calah Lane and Timothée Chalamet in Wonka.

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Calah Lane and Timothée Chalamet in Wonka.

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Willy, already a magician who can create candies that enchant, simply desires to promote them to the world, however first, he’ll have to flee Mrs. Scrubitt. On prime of that, it turns on the market’s a cartel made up of three devious chocolatiers (Paterson Joseph, Matthew Baynton and Matt Lucas) who will cease at nothing to forestall Willy from establishing himself as competitors, and so they have the assistance of the native corrupt police chief (Keegan-Michael Key). And eight-inch-high, orange-faced, green-haired Hugh Grant performs the one Oompa-Loompa we see. Whereas he fires off just a few terrifically dry strains throughout his antagonistic push-and-pull with Willy, the story would not really want him.

The performances in Wonka are well-suited to its function. Chalamet is just not a nice singer, he’s a good singer who, refreshingly, sings like a younger dreamer with a pleasant voice and never like a pop star. He totally commits to Willy’s sunny, indefatigable cheer, and he manages the larger, broader dialogue about goals and magic with the boldness it wants to look unforced. Colman has the time of her life as Scrubitt, bringing notes of Miss Hannigan from Annie and each different dirty menace to youngsters. And it will make a beautiful introduction to Calah Lane for individuals who have not seen her earlier than; Noodle and Willy’s relationship is essentially the most resonant within the film (other than his reminiscences of his mom, performed by Sally Hawkins).

The manufacturing design, as maybe you’d anticipate, is colourful and playful when it needs to be, and King phases some effective musical numbers. Whereas the songs should not so memorable that everybody will sing them on the way in which out of the theater, they’re catchy and interesting within the second, and numerous mother and father will doubtless hear them again and again (and over).

That is an entertaining, upbeat, imaginative movie, even when it would not really feel very similar to Willy Wonka. King got here up with this story himself, and there is not one of the “you higher be good for goodness’ sake” message of the unique story. Reasonably than specializing in the ethical worthiness of youngsters, it focuses on the necessity for connection and marvel that adults and children share. At its core, Wonka is an journey a few younger man who wants his associates to assist him overcome a collection of obstacles and make his goals come true, in order that he can assist them have theirs in return. A few the musical numbers do have the over-the-top fantasy parts you would possibly affiliate with what’s going to later be Willy’s manufacturing facility, and whereas a lot of the songs are new, Wonka borrows a few the 1971 movie’s best-remembered musical moments.

The query, finally, is that this: With out extra of an undercurrent of menace than this, does a narrative have any connection to Roald Dahl? To Charlie and the Chocolate Manufacturing unit? It’s regarding, in reality, to think about this as younger Willy Wonka. If this character performed by Chalamet later become the one performed by Wilder — who impassively watches as a toddler apparently drowns — one thing very dangerous has occurred within the interim. However what appears to go unsaid in some hand-wringing about reimaginings of beloved characters is that that ominous Gene Wilder efficiency nonetheless exists for anybody who prefers it. Nothing is taken away by a special — however not cynical — strategy. That is King’s story, borrowing the concept of an eccentric sweet mogul for a brand new function. Menace will at all times be accessible; it is no sin to look via a extra optimistic lens as effectively.

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