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The Comenian

‘Wonka’ review

I Found A Golden Ticket (Movie)!
Photo Courtesy of of

Come with me down the Chocolate River to see the newest adaptation of one of Ronald Dahl’s stories in the 2023 film Wonka. First, I’d like to mention that this film does not exist in the same universe as the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or the 2005 adaptation Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, there are multiple references to the previous films that will be addressed in this article.

The film follows plucky chocolatier Willy Wonka before he makes his edible empire. Set in the mid-to-late 1930s, this film takes place approximately 25 years before Gene Wilder’s character reached his own success. The Willy Wonka films have always held a special place in my heart, so to see how well thought out this film was made my heart swell. The first thing I noticed when watching Wonka was the costume design. It pays homage to the 1971 color palette, incorporating the signature brown top hat and purple overcoat. 

The attention to detail throughout the film is something to marvel at. There are several instances where the 2023 adaptation nods to the original Wonka films. Some callbacks from the film that I enjoyed include Wonka’s cane standing by itself, his signature stair dance, and, of course, the final shot of the film in which Wonka creates the first Everlasting Gobstopper. An easter egg that blew my mind has to do with The Scrubbit’s Washhouse. 

At the start of the film, Wonka runs out of money and decides to sleep on a bench when he is approached by a suspicious-looking man. The man claims that he knows a place for Wonka to stay the night. As he was vulnerable and down on his luck, Wonka accepted this seemingly kind gesture. To stay in the washhouse for the night, Wonka needed to sign a contract, which had lots of fine print. This is a direct callback to the fine print found in the contracts from the 1971 and 2005 films. 

After his one-night stay, Wonka is informed that the contract he signed the night prior had A LOT of fine print that he did not read. Now, he owes more money than he has and is told he must work off his debts in the wash house. The washhouse is a reference to Charlie Bucket’s mother in the 1971 film, who worked in a washhouse to support the family. It is in Scrubbit’s Washhouse that the audience is introduced to a rag-tag ensemble of characters.

There is Abacus Crunch, a former accountant; Lottie Bell, a timid telephone operator; Piper Benz, a plumber; Larry Chucklesworth, a failed comedian and Wonka’s confidant, an inquisitive and intelligent young girl named Noodle. This team takes the place of the golden ticket winners in the other films. As this film takes place before golden ticket winners were an idea in Wonka’s mind, it makes sense that he would grow up to associate this prime number with the number of success. With five friends, he was able to build an empire, so moving forward in life he rewarded five additional people.

No Willy Wonka film would be complete without an excellent soundtrack. If you are a musical theater lover, be sure to check out the soundtrack, especially the songs Sweet Tooth and Scrub Scrub, which have a similar sultry sound to Cell Block Tango from Chicago. While it’s difficult to pick a favorite from this soundtrack, the songs I have had on repeat the most are You’ve Never Have Chocolate Like This, For A Moment, A Hatful of Dreams, and of course Timothée Chalamet’s rendition of Pure Imagination

The score of this film brings me so much joy. It had been a long time since I had felt giddy like this, but something about the whimsical nature of the songs made me feel like I was a young girl again. The high energy, beautiful harmonies, theatrical dancing, and overall message of never giving up on your dreams can make anyone’s heart flutter. I had body chills for the entirety of the film. I would safely say that this is a no-skip soundtrack. 

During the final scene of the movie, everything comes together as Timothée Chalamet sings Pure Imagination while his chocolate factory builds around him. The colors are vivid and lively, just like Wonka’s personality, creating a perfect conclusion to a marvelous film.  

Overall, Wonka is now one of my top 10 favorite movies. If you are a fan of prequels or musicals, I strongly recommend this film.

Rate: 10/10

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    Sondra kolbFeb 18, 2024 at 9:49 pm

    Oh oh im glad i saw this, i am so sappy about both of the Charlie and the chocolate facory( both versions) and i thought oh Wonka will be reminiscent of those but oh what a surprise! I love the change up of this one, the characters, the story line, even got weepy at the end. 10 stars i did particularly like the zoo scene