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Critics’ First Reactions Praise ‘Wonka’ and We’re as Surprised as You Are

Timothee Chalamet as Willy Wonka in Wonka

When we first saw the trailer for Wonka, we were admittedly perplexed. A prequel film about a young Willy Wonka (played by Manic Pixie Dream Boy Timothée Chalamet) seemed like a cross between a fascinating villain origin story and yet another cynical cash grab based on existing intellectual property.

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The trailer quickly divided fans with its fantastical world-building and curious casting of Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa. After all, Willy Wonka is a complicated man, to say the least. He is both a “proto-Jigsaw,” as our Britt Hayes notes, punishing children via violent morality traps/candy contraptions. And then there’s the unsavory colonizing of Loompaland and the abduction of its entire population to work in his factory.

But Wonka’s secret weapon is undoubtedly its director and co-writer, Paul King. King wrote and directed Paddington and Paddington 2, two of the highest-rated and universally beloved family films of the 2010s. Coupled with a fantastic cast that includes Calah Lane, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Keegan-Michael Key, Natasha Rothwell, Rowan Atkinson, and more, Wonka just may steal the entire holiday season.

Now that the first reactions are out, Wonka seems to have done exactly that. Critics are praising the film and declaring it a new holiday classic. Let’s dive into the first reactions for Wonka.

Germain Lussier (io9, Gizmodo) tweeted, “Timothée Chalamet is reason alone to see #WonkaMovie. He’s infinitely charming & a blast to watch. The movie around him isn’t as good but it’s enjoyable. The story & tone fight against each other leaving it a bit muddled. And yet it’s filled with joy & the songs are delightful.”

Journalist Simon Thompson (Forbes, Variety) tweeted, “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. Timothée Chalamet’s titular dandy is endearing and fun while Hugh Grant’s Oompa-Loompa steals every scene he is in. #WonkaMovie”

Kenzie Vanunu of Oscars Central and The Cherry Picks wrote, “#Wonka is absolute magic! the way the film feels like a classic 90s family film yet so modern at the same time is incredible. timothée chalamet is so magnetic and truly a movie star calah lane, olivia colman, hugh grant and paterson joseph create a perfect ensemble,” adding “i really thought this was going be this year’s CATS and it was truly so great. easily should be the holiday film everyone takes their entire family to see, i’m sorry to ever doubting this film !!!”

More first takes from X can be found below, and for the most part, they are raves:

Wonka hits theaters on December 15, 2023.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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