Here's What Critics Are Saying About Timothée Chalamet's New Film Wonka

The new musical hits cinemas later this week – but is it worth seeing?
Timothée Chalamet as seen during one of Wonka's big production numbers.
Timothée Chalamet as seen during one of Wonka's big production numbers.
Warner Bros

Timothée Chalamet certainly has cause for a bit of a song and dance today, as the reviews for his new film Wonka are out.

The Oscar nominee takes the lead as a young Willy Wonka in the new big-screen musical, which was helmed by Paddington director Paul King.

Wonka premiered in London last week, and while the initial reception on social media was almost unanimously glowing, critics have now had their say in more lengthy reviews.

And fortunately for the all-star cast, it sounds like the film has hit the sweet spot among most people, with Timothée in particular being singled out for praise for his leading performance.

Here’s a selection of what’s been said so far…

“In the hands of Brit-cinema’s new kings of comedy, writer Simon Farnaby and writer-director Paul King (who have already worked their magic on Paddington), this pre-Wonka is an absolute Christmas treat; it’s spectacular, imaginative, sweet-natured and funny. Timothée Chalamet is charm itself as the young Wonka [...] despite the extra spoonful sugar in the mix, I have to say … whisper it … I enjoyed this more than either of the two earlier filmed versions…”

“At this point it is hard to call Timothée Chalamet a revelation as he keeps turning in one wildly different performance after another, and now he proves you can add singing and dancing to the list. But he does both with unmistakable charm and seeming ease.”

“In Wonka, the fun, rousing, impeccably staged, jaw-droppingly old-fashioned musical prequel to the legendary Roald Dahl tale, Timothée Chalamet plays the title character as the beaming soul of effervescent goodness [...] And it isn’t just the character who’s wholesome to within an inch of his life. As a movie, Wonka may be the squarest big-scale Hollywood musical in decades.”

“Like any good chocolatier, King has obsessively focused on texture and flavour. And it’s those qualities – tuned to mass-market tastes, yet held in connoisseurish balance – that give his film its irresistible velvety sweetness.”

Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant in Wonka
Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant in Wonka
Warner Bros

“[None of the songs are] terribly earwormy, but the music is nimble and quaintly melodic—and Chalamet sings it as gamely as any former theater kid might.

“What could easily have been sweaty, a little embarrassing even, instead comes across as playful—Chalamet and his castmates generously shedding self-consciousness so that kids might enjoy themselves and learn a few worthwhile life lessons.”

“Chalamet carries the thrust of the film (and Wilder’s legacy) admirably on his slight shoulders. He’s a warm and winning Wonka, infusing the character with a fanciful sense of humour and a guileless enthusiasm. Every so often, he dips into madness, a wink toward Wilder’s more unpredictable chocolatier, but he also makes the character wholly his own.”

“Chalamet, it’s clear, possesses the kind of all-round star power capable of shouldering Wonka’s whimsy. He can certainly dance and sing as well as he needs to – but, most importantly, he has the kind of raw talent that can carry a film like this right over the sentimental finishing line [...] That said, Chalamet may have been slightly miscast here. He reads as more of a Newsie than a Wonka, as an affable and pretty normal guy.”

Empire (4/5)

“It may not scale the heights of his Paddington duo, but Paul King’s Wonka is a beguiling way to spend 116 minutes, perfectly anchored by Chalamet’s benevolent dandy.”

“As for the main event himself, Timothée Chalamet acquits himself well for the singing and dancing, yet like the blend of Paddington sensibilities with Wonka, it doesn’t quite click. There’s never a point where you buy the eccentricity of Wonka, or any sense that this character grows up to be somebody who essentially tortures children with chocolate.”

“Depending on your appetite for sugary excess, you might embrace the director’s Wonka as more of the same. Or you might find the qualities that distinguished his previous hits get steamrolled here by strained whimsy, an aggressive charm that wears you down rather than lifts you up.”

“Just as one scene has Willy being carried over the city by a bunch of helium balloons, the film ignores the gravitational pull of reality. Relentlessly wacky and over-the-top, everything in it is too contrived to care about.”

The Times (2/5)

“Casting the dreamy Chalamet as a younger version of Gene Wilder’s excitable, irascible and fundamentally dangerous Willy Wonka (from the Seventies classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) was always going to be a stretch. Alas, it was also, as this wearisome musical prequel cruelly demonstrates, a mistake.”

Wonka arrives in cinemas on Friday 8 December.


What's Hot