Wonka First Reactions: A Charming, Whimsical Treat Powered by a Stellar Timothée Chalamet

Critics on social media say director Paul King's Paddington charm works delightfully in the candy dandy's origin story, which could become an instant holiday classic.

by | November 28, 2023 | Comments


The musical prequel Wonka is here, and the first reactions are coming soon! Wait, scratch that and reverse it. The first reactions to Paul King’s Wonka have arrived on social media, and the critics are calling it a delicious spectacle anchored by a delectable performance by Timothée Chalamet as the titular candyman. While there may be minor issues with the script, according to some reviewers, the initial praises say it’s something to be savored by the whole family.

Here’s what critics are saying about Wonka:

Is Wonka as sweet as it looks?

Wonka is the family event of the holiday season. A charming, delightful, whimsical tale of dreamers and the system that restricts them… A winner!” – Griffin Schiller, FilmSpeak

Wonka is an instant holiday classic and a truly magical time at the movies.” – Zoë Rose Bryant, Next Best Picture

Wonka is a winning confection, filled with perfect amounts of charm, whimsy, and poignancy, powered by pure imagination and bright, nimble musical numbers.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Wonka is a super charming delight… such an impossibly sweet film with a hefty and very effective dose of sincerity.” – Perri Nemiroff, Collider

Wonka is a delight! Loved watching the story of young Willy Wonka unfold.” – Wendy Lee Szany, The Movie Couple

Wonka is unabashedly silly, and a perfectly charming family film… Embracing a quirky, heartwarming tone, Wonka is funny and sweet enough to overcome any minor bumps in the road.” – Daniel Howat, Next Best Picture

Wonka good. Paul King king.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Poster art for Wonka (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

And does it look as good as it sounds?

“Chung-hoon Chung’s cinematography is scrumdidilyumptious, as is Lindy Hemming’s textured costume design and Nathan Crowley’s sprawling production design.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Costumes are on point. Chung-hoon Chung’s cinematography is rich.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

“Wonka is visually delightful. Shout out to Nathan Crowley, his world-building is fantastical in every way.” – Jazz Tangcay, Variety

“Wonka’s world is brilliantly designed, capturing the wonder of his early years.” – Daniel Howat, Next Best Picture

How is the music?

“Every musical number enchants.” – Zoë Rose Bryant, Next Best Picture

“The songs are delightful.” – Germain Lussier,

“Neil Hannon’s songs are solid.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

What about the script?

“King and Simon Farnaby’s script is witty and nimble.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

“King WONDERFULLY channels Dahl’s cheeky disdain for the elite that enhances the enigma of Wonka while standing confidently on its own.” – Griffin Schiller, FilmSpeak

“The story and tone fight against each other leaving it a bit muddled.” – Germain Lussier,

Timothée Chalamet in Wonka (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

How does it compare to Paul King’s Paddington movies?

“Paul King brings the same lovable tone from the Paddington films to Wonka, adding in some cute musical numbers.” – Daniel Howat, Next Best Picture

“Paul King’s whimsical style works as well here as it did in Paddington.” – Zoë Rose Bryant, Next Best Picture

“While Paul King’s Wonka doesn’t quite reach the charming and beguiling heights of the Paddington movies, it is still a delightfully sweet treat.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

“Paul King is clearly quite good at delivering movies that make you smile and Wonka is no different.” – Perri Nemiroff, Collider

How is Timothée Chalamet’s performance as Willy Wonka?

“Timothée Chalamet is genuinely so good here, delivering a fresh new interpretation of Willy Wonka that still honors what’s come before, and killing it as both a comedian and a performer.” – Zoë Rose Bryant, Next Best Picture

“Timothée Chalamet channels the energy of Gene without doing an impression.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

“Timothée Chalamet brought the perfect amount of charm, naivete, and wonder.” – Wendy Lee Szany, The Movie Couple

“Timothée Chalamet is a charisma factory. His full committal is intoxicating.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Timothée Chalamet’s titular dandy is endearing and fun.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

“A pitch-perfect performance from Timothée Chalamet.” – Perri Nemiroff, Collider

“Timothée Chalamet is reason alone to see Wonka. He’s infinitely charming & a blast to watch.” – Germain Lussier,

“Timothée Chalamet doesn’t quite feel comfortable in the role.” – Daniel Howat, Next Best Picture

What about Hugh Grant as the Oompa Loompa?

“Hugh Grant’s Oompa-Loompa steals every scene he is in.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

“Hugh Grant is in exceptional IDGAF mode.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant in Wonka (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Are there any other performances worth mentioning?

“The entire ensemble takes turns stealing the show.” – Zoë Rose Bryant, Next Best Picture

“The ensemble supporting cast is a treat with Olivia Colman, Tom Davis, and Rich Fulcher being highlights.” – Simon Thompson, Forbes

“There are lots of supporting performances to love, especially Calah Lane, who excels big time in the middle of an ensemble filled with powerhouse veteran performers. And Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, and Mathew Baynton = the PERFECT villainous trio. They feel like a sinister threat but are also clearly relishing the opportunity to getting playful with it, and I couldn’t get enough of that.” – Perri Nemiroff, Collider

“Keegan Michael-Key was under-utilized.” – Wendy Lee Szany, The Movie Couple

Does the movie have any major issues?

“It can get quite silly and there’s a few plot points that are a tad on the thin side.” – Perri Nemiroff, Collider

Wonka is harmless. It has winning elements in a fairly unremarkable attempt to replicate Dahl’s spirit, and while it was always going to have nostalgia plays by default, I wish they weren’t used as a shortcut for key emotional beats.” – Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

Is there anything else we need to know?

“Don’t go into this movie w/o buying chocolate!” – Wendy Lee Szany, The Movie Couple

Wonka opens in theaters everywhere on December 15, 2023.

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