Film now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital

By Lynn Venhaus

A charming origin story with a winsome Timothee Chalamet as a joyful chocolatier with grand ambitions, “Wonka” is a super-sized old-fashioned musical. It’s a sweet treat for families, but also anyone who is captivated by pure imagination.

While the British-based film might not soar to exciting uncharted horizons, it has a comfortable, whimsical feel amid its eye-popping magical world.

After traveling the seven seas gathering exotic ingredients, a young and poor Willy Wonka (Timothee Chalamet) dreams of setting up a candy shop in London, but discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.

As a prequel, there is no foreshadowing of a darker candy emperor, but a hint of the eccentricity and mischief Gene Wilder displayed in 1971’s now beloved “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,” or Tim Burton’s weirdness in the 2005 Johnny Depp take “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — just a sincere motherless son who will need pluck and luck to overcome the many hurdles in his path.

Inventive writer-director Paul King gave us a most enchanting double-shot of “Paddington” and “Paddington 2” that we didn’t know we needed in 2014 and 2017 — but were so grateful to receive (don’t miss the sequel and thank me later).

Inspired with the best of intentions, he approached Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with a big-sized heart.

Leaning into the anticipation of a fanciful adventure, he gives us a storybook tableau that’s part Dickensian London and part funhouse.

He’s also enlisted a splendid supporting cast to boost the entertainment value, with Keegan-Michael Key as the shady police chief who has a chocolate addiction and Rowan Atkinson, aka “Mr. Bean,” as a chocoholic priest.

Featuring exaggerated performances by a cadre of villains, the meanies are just obnoxious, not terrifying, starting with Oscar winner Olivia Colman as a cruel captor, Mrs. Scrubbit, who foils lodgers into signing rigged long term labor contracts. Character actor Tom Davis plays her boyfriend, “Bleacher,” a hulking enforcer.

The main trio of bad guys are a chocolate cartel straight out of old-timey melodramas – Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas), and Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton). They can’t have competition in the form of a wide-eyed world traveler, eager to elevate candy-making to high art.

They do everything they can to block him. But Chalamet’s Wonka is such a charming dreamer that he quickly forms friendships with the other downtrodden captives, and their newfound family bond will help him through many pickles he gets into while trying to succeed.

Calah Lane plays his orphaned wingman, Noodle, and they are a beguiling duo. Jim Carter, familiar to “Downtown Abbey” fans, is a kind leader in the sweat shop, Abacus Crunch.

Stealing the show, however, is Hugh Grant as an annoyed Oompa Loompa, sporting a green wig – yet dances with glee.

The script was co-written by King’s frequent collaborator Simon Farnaby, who is also an actor known for the British version of “Ghosts.” He plays a goofy zoo security guard here. There are many good-natured dollops of humor, especially sight gags.

Six original songs are featured in the movie, composed by Joby Talbot, who worked on “Sing” and its sequel, and his former Divine Comedy bandmate, lyricist Neil Hannon. “A World of Your Own,” “A Hatful of Dreams,” and “For a Moment” are solid tunes that add flavor to the story.

While no one is going to mistake Chalamet for Josh Groban, he does an adequate job, eliciting a few tears from me with his heartfelt rendition of “Pure Imagination.” Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s classic is evergreen.

The big number establishing the chocolate rivalry is “You’ve Never Had Chocolate Like This (Hoverchocs)” and it’s a dandy in execution.

This new release is somewhere in the middle between the 1971 and 2005 films but offers an amusing and fresh perspective on a delightful story. And was a pleasant diversion amid more bombastic and edgy fare.

And if you didn’t get any candy at the concession stand beforehand, you’ll be craving a confection soon enough. An Everlasting Gobstopper won’t suffice – must involve a cacao bean,

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it, Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it…

A sentimental, nostalgic and earnest “Wonka” has all the ingredients to be a big crowd-pleaser, especially with its adorable reveal in the finale.

“Wonka” is a 2023 musical fantasy adventure film directed by Paul King and starring Timothee Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Olivia Colman, Keegan Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins and.Calah Lane. It is rated PG for some violence, mild language and thematic elements and the runtime is 1 hour, 55 minutes. It was released in theaters Dec. 15 and as of Feb. 27, is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD + Digital Doe, VOD and Digital. Lynn’s Grade: B

Blu-ray extras: “Unwrapping Wonka: Paul King’s Vision”; “The Whimsical Music of Wonka”; “Welcome to Wonka Land”; “Hats Off to Wonka”; “Wonka’s Chocolatier”: Chocolatier Gabriella Cugno provides an in-depth look at the creation of the beautiful chocolates seen in “Wonka.”

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