I’m A Big Fan Of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, But Wonka Is My New Favorite Willy Wonka Movie

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Written By Maya Cantina

I love Willy Wonka. Who doesn’t? Like many people of a certain age, I grew up loving the Gene Wilder original, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but I also really like Tim Burton’s version, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I think did a lot of things well. 

However, after recently watching the Timothée Chalamet prequel (which we gave a favorable review to), I believe I have a new favorite version of the character and story. Here’s why!     

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For The First Time Ever, We Get A Cinematic Version Of Wonka Who Isn’t An Isolated Loner 

As I mentioned in the intro, I’m a big fan of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but anybody who’s seen that movie (especially at a young age) will tell you that Gene Wilder’s character could be really creepy sometimes. 

Not to be outdone, Tim Burton somehow managed to make an even creepier and more aloof version of the character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In fact, my colleague, Alexandra Ramos, re-watched the movie and was a little surprised by how “weirded out” she was by it, and yeah. She’s right. It is weird, (though, it’s closer to what I remember from the Roald Dahl novel of the same name than the Wilder version).

However, the issue that I somewhat have with both of these versions is that Willy Wonka doesn’t seem like the kind of person that I would want to leave my kids around. I mean, that’s kind of the point with the older versions, and Roald Dahl had a tendency to write somewhat scary adult characters in some of his children’s stories. All that’s fine. 

That said, I never truly liked either cinematic version of Willy Wonka. I more enjoyed the factories and the songs that the movies gave us. I do, however, LOVE Timothée Chalamet’s version of the character, as he doesn’t seem like some isolated loner, but rather, a nice and friendly guy.

A lot of that is probably due to the director Paul King’s movie being a prequel rather than an adaptation of the novel. This Wonka is young and optimistic. He isn’t jaded, nor does he seem like the kind of person who would be okay with a child falling into his chocolate and then getting shot off into the stratosphere. 

Instead, we get a Wonka who is just trying to make people happy. In other words, Chalamet’s version ostensibly WANTS to be around people, which is refreshing, to say the very least. 

I’m A Big Fan Of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, But Wonka Is My New Favorite Willy Wonka Movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

I Really Love To See The World Outside Of The Factory 

As I mentioned earlier, what I really liked about the first two Wonka movies was actually seeing the inside of his factory. Not only that, but the two movies (and the book) leaned kind of hard into the schadenfreude, as I really enjoyed seeing those rotten kids get their comeuppance, (which might say more about me than the movies). However, I’m kind of tired of the factory, and I’m happy that this origin story doesn’t really feature much of it at all.  

In fact, in our very own Sarah El-Mahmoud’s article about 5 lessons Wonka should learn from the other two movies, she mentions how the factory is all about imparting lessons, and I’m happy to say that lessons are indeed imparted in this movie, but they’re done differently.   

For example, the lessons in the old films leaned more toward, “Don’t be greedy,” or “You should care for others rather than yourself,” and those lessons are definitely in this movie. But, by taking the movie out of the factory and not having the victims be children, but rather, greedy executives, a corrupt police officer, and the clergy, we get to see more positivity coming from our protagonists, and it’s counterbalanced with the negativeness from the antagonists, who are the ones who learn a lesson. 

I don’t know if this would be possible if the story took place inside the factory, and I just really like seeing Wonka existing in a world outside of it, since the factory is mostly what we’ve gotten in the first two films. Not having him spend the film inside really makes Wonka seem like he exists in his own special world, which is wonderful.  

I’m A Big Fan Of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, But Wonka Is My New Favorite Willy Wonka Movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Wonka’s Friends Are So Much Fun 

Here’s another great thing about Wonka – he actually has friends this time around! In this one, we’re introduced to a cast of people who, because of circumstances, are forced to pay an exorbitant debt. And Willy Wonka, who is in the same situation, befriends them.  

Some of these friends include a bad comedian, who reminds me of one of my favorite Muppets, Fozzie Bear, an accountant who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and an orphan named Noodles, played by Calah Lane.    

And, here’s the beauty of Wonka having friends: It makes him seem all the more human. In the other movies (especially the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration), Willy Wonka almost feels like he’s been dehumanized. Like, he couldn’t care less what happens to others.   

But by giving him friends, it makes him seem all the more personable. Not only that, but his friends actually add a lot to the story, and are a whole lot of fun. Especially when it comes to the singing and dancing numbers, which I’ll get into next.   

I’m A Big Fan Of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, But Wonka Is My New Favorite Willy Wonka Movie

(Image credit: Jaap Buittendijk/Warner Bros.)

The Songs Are Also Really Fantastic  

You probably wouldn’t know this if you just watched the trailers, but Wonka is a MUSICAL musical. What I mean is, the first two movies had music IN them, but Wonka is a musical through-and-through. I’m not really sure why this film isn’t marketed as such, since the musical numbers are some of my favorite moments in the film.  

In fact, Wonka is the movie that truly made me believe that Timothée Chalamet could do it all. I mean, I knew that he had range with his performances, but to see him singing and dancing just makes me even more impressed with him.   

It doesn’t hurt that the songs here are really fantastic. In fact, I like them better than any of the songs found in the first two movies, even though “Pure Imagination” will always be a banger (and actually somewhat appears in this film, as well). 

But, being a pure musical really puts this movie above the other films for me, as I eagerly anticipated each musical number in this film, while the songs in the other two movies just felt more like a nice addition. 

I’m A Big Fan Of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, But Wonka Is My New Favorite Willy Wonka Movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Having One Oompa Loompa Rather Than Several Does Wonders 

Okay, so I KNOW there’s controversy surrounding casting Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa, so, I’m not really going to get into all that.   

What I do want to get into, though, is that I really like that there’s primarily only one Oompa Loompa in this movie. What I like about this is that he actually gets his own story. We get hints of this in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory version, but we’re really learning more about them from WONKA’S perspective in that movie. 

In this movie, an Oompa Loompa actually has agency, and that’s huge. It broadens the world of these characters, which I was only slightly familiar with from the book and other films, and even creates stakes for Grant’s character, which I love. 

And, that just means everything to me. So much so that I could even see an Oompa Loompa getting his own movie after this performance, not unlike how the Minions got their own separate series following Despicable Me. I mean, maybe I should be careful for what I wish for, but I just loved the Oompa Loompa’s story this time around, and that’s something I couldn’t say about either of the other two movies. 

Have YOU watched Wonka yet? For more news on all things Wonka, be sure to swing around here often!   

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