Charles Merritt is stunned by this prequel to a classic children’s story
Age rating: PG
Runtime: 115 minutes
See this if you liked: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Paddington
Overview: The young chocolatier Willy Wonka manages to change the world, ‘one bite at a time’.
What I Liked:
What happens if you take the wit and charm of Simon Farnaby and Paul King, stir it in with the panache of King’s visually rich directing and top it all off with a sprinkling of musical numbers to elevate the sweet notes? You get this film.
Yes, the creative team behind the two highly successful Paddington films have taken Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and given him a backstory you didn’t know you needed but won’t complain now you’ve got it.
It’s a classic Hollywood musical, big song and dance numbers that come thick and fast (way more songs than I was expecting, but each one a delight). The numbers are beautifully realised both lyrically and visually. There are moments when it feels as though you are reading a Roald Dahl novel, the words are so beautifully woven together to give you that nostalgic mixture of nonsense and genius.
The characters are larger than life but work because there’s a beating heart behind it all, Wonka’s dream of becoming a world famous chocolatier and the people he brings into it along the way.
What I Didn’t Like:
Okay, so that’s the gushing out of the way… There’s not much I didn’t like, I’ll just say that in comparison to the Paddington films (which are probably some of the most perfect films in existence) there was something missing from this… Not that the film was bad, I can’t really put my finger on it.
Dare I say, I’d actually really like a sequel to this - whether that be Wonka’s next step or Paul King and Simon Farnaby’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Or even The Great Glass Elevator…?
Thoughts For The Parents:
There’s a small line which is said (and this is probably not verbatim but) ‘the greedy always beat the needy’. The more I think about the more that I think the film was mostly about this.
In today’s world, it is still very much who you know rather than what you know. We have systems that are corrupt and built to benefit certain people from certain backgrounds or to oppress those who we think have less value than ourselves.
Sadly, the same was true in the world that Jesus found himself in. Systems of oppression that meant not everyone was treated equally nor allowed the same opportunities in life.
Jesus ultimately came to break those systems of oppression - sin is much more than just our own personal sin, it’s the sin of the systems we have allowed to continue too.
Let’s not pretend that we have no part to play in them, even the film reminds us that church has not always acted so holy, temptation to sit by and do nothing is still temptation… Who knew that Wonka would be so ’choc-full(!)’ of deep messages regarding systematic sin?