Willy Wonka's Return to Theaters

By Alana Shields 

December 20, 2023
Wonka (2023) Directed by Paul King

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a movie based on Roald Dahl’s astounding book about Charlie Bucket and four other children, Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee, Violet Beauregarde, and Augustus Gloop, who have found the treasure, the golden ticket, hidden inside a Wonka chocolate bar. The movie and book take place at Willy Wonka’s magical and mysterious chocolate factory and have to undergo tests to prove to Wonka who the true honest child is for a secret cause. 

Over the years, there have been many adaptations to Roald Dahl's book and many different portrayals of the eccentric character, Willy Wonka. Following in the footsteps of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp, Timothee Chalamet takes on the role of Willy Wonka in a more whimsical and wonky light, happier and more silly than Johnny Depp's or Gene Wilder’s take on the character in my opinion, making the newest movie, Wonka, one of my favorites. 

Wonka, starring Timothee Chalamet, Calah Lane, and Hugh Grant, shows us the backstory behind Wonka’s chocolate factory and how it came to be, with magical songs, new friends, an Oompa Loompa, and crazy chocolatiers. The movie starts with Willy Wonka first arriving in the city of chocolate where 3 chocolatiers, Slugworth, Prodnose, and Fickelgruber, are in a chocolate cartel fighting against Wonka, afraid of the amazing chocolate selling them out. When Wonka first arrives he is very poor, needing a quick and cheap place to stay. He stumbles upon Scrubbit and Bleacher’s hotel who are actual con artists. Wonka being his nice self falls into their trap but luckily meets Noodle and all the other people who fell for Scrubbit’s plan and they all help Wonka complete his dream while dealing with the cartel and the chocolate bribed police men. 

Wonka and the other movies are very different from one another. The most obvious difference is that Wonka is the backstory and takes place before the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but there are also little things such as the Oompa Loompas and Willy Wonka’s childhood. 

Oompa Loompas: In Roald Dahl’s book the depiction of Oompa Loompas is now very racist so it soon changed to what we all know and love, the little orange men with green hair. In the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) that was how the Oompa Loompas were portrayed,  but in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) they were shown just as the Roald Dahl book was written. Finally, in the most recent one, Wonka (2023), the Oompa Loompas were back to the iconic orange bodied and green headed men that we know. Wonka shows a different origin and how Oompa Loompas came to be. In both of the original movies, Willy Wonka tells us the story of how he came across Loompaland and got them to come home with him and work at the chocolate factory. In Wonka, the Oompa Loompa, portrayed by Hugh Grant, first meets Willy by stealing his chocolate in the middle of the night because Wonka stole 4 cocoa beans from his land a while back causing Wonka to convince him to stop and eventually work for him and pay off the 4 beans. 

Wonka’s childhood: In the 2005 adaption, Willy Wonka’s childhood was very dark and sad leading to Wonka, personally, being a little creepy. Why? Wonka’s childhood was very traumatizing. His father was a dentist and allowed no candy in his household which made Wonka very uncertain of his decisions when his candy factory was created. In the newest version, Wonka’s childhood is much more happy and suiting for his fun character. Quite the opposite of 2005’s take, Willy lives with his mom who each day brings home 1 cocoa bean from work and on his birthday every year they make a chocolate bar, inspiring Wonka to later create his store selling unique chocolates.  

Overall, Wonka is a more fantastical take on the original book and other movies. It's warm and happy just like the chocolate in the stories. Watching it in the theater, although not a Christmas movie, made me feel happy and filled with joy. Whereas the others seemed gloomy even though they are all about sweets and a magical candyland, the new Wonka movie really represented that with all its colors, songs, and treats.