Wonka is a chocolate box of delights

Director Paul King is the man behind the Paddington movies, so we have every right to expect great things from Wonka, and his trademark whimsy has certain certainly been put to good use again. The film is a box-of-tricks delight, that has a youthful Willy Wonka, as yet untouched by a cynical world, determined to make life altogether more chocolaty.

Timothée Chalamet, as the innocent abroad, leads a largely British cast determined to join in the fun. Olivia Colman and Tom Davis provide Dickensian levels of evilness, while Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Mathew Baynton are altogether nastier as the rival confectioners, intent on closing down the opposition. It’s Chalamet’s alliance with Calah Lane’s Noodle that brings light into a film that was in danger of tipping into gloom, after which things get decidedly jollier. When Hugh Grant joins the party, once again proving his mastery of comedy, as Lofty the Oompa-Loompais the movie really takes off. Delightfully silly, Grant seems to relish his reincarnation as King’s comic foil, as do the innumerable cameos that pop up  throughout this charming movie. 

There’s not much room for Roald Dahl’s signature cruelty in this version (though the ever expanding waist line of Keegan-Michael Key’s chocolate-addicted Police Chief gets pretty close) but the spirit of wonder and enchantment is there in abundance. And while Chalamet may lack the quixotic cruelty of Gene Wilder’s iteration, he nevertheless tips more than a foppish hat to the seventies film, not least in pinching all the best tunes. Music is otherwise provided by Neil Hammond of the Divine Comedy, which is used sparingly but to winning effect, accompanied some impressively choreographed dance routines. All in all, this is that rarest of things – a proper family film and really is for all the family.