Young Willy Wonka arrives in town with a little money and a bar of chocolate in a top hat halfway between the magician’s hat and Eta Beta’s bag. His dream is to open a large chocolate shop in the square where, however, three master chocolatiers already coexist who form a cartel among themselves and do not allow a new competitor: especially one who manages to make customers fly with his chocolates. Willy stays at an inn whose owner makes him sign a contract full of clauses that bind him to work for years in her laundry, where other unfortunate people who have been deceived in the same way at different times also stay. Among them is Noodle, a little girl who was recovered by the landlady from the laundry bin and who is forced to repay such generosity with the role of slave of the inn. The little group just has to join forces and hold on to their dreams, hoping one day to make them all come true.
This time Paul King is directing, bringing out all his Britishness and openly referring to the Paddington mini-saga, which he masterfully directed. King chooses the path of the fairy tale tout court and creates a good and naive protagonist, easy prey for bad guys but determined to never give up: a dreamer with an imagination that allows him to overcome any difficulty by passing over any injustice with lightness.
And Timothée Chalamet is very light, who in the role of Willy jumps and dances like a puppet from a Victorian theater, and sings songs written especially for what is in all respects a musical, in addition to the two unforgettable motifs from the previous films: “Pure imagination” and “Oompa Loompa”. And speaking of ooompa loompa, there’s only one here but it’s worth a hundred, because it has the humor and self-irony of Hugh Grant.
It is precisely from this detail that we understand what Wonka’s problem is, namely the betrayal of Dahl’s sarcastic and iconoclastic spirit that has always been so popular with children (and adults) all over the world. King makes his Willy a kind elf without a shred of malice or (hilarious) cynicism, leaving the bad guys only to be the members of the “chocolate cartel” and the innkeeper who the legendary Olivia Colman interprets as a cross between the Trunchbull from Matilda you are legendary and Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd.