Timothée Chalamet’s highly-anticipated “Charlie and the Charlie Factory” prequel musical “Wonka” has finally been unveiled to critics and entertainment journalists, and the first reactions are calling it a “winning confection” and “an instant holiday classic.”
“Wonka,” directed by “Paddington” and “Paddington 2” filmmaker Paul King, casts Chalamet as a younger iteration of the famous chocolatier. The film is set years before Wonka opens his world-renowned chocolate factory and follows the young man as he fights to open his first shop. The supporting cast includes Calah Lane, Keegan-Michael Key, Matt Lucas, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman and Hugh Grant.
Film critic Courtney Howard wrote “Wonka” is “a winning confection, filled with perfect amounts of charm, whimsy & poignancy, powered by pure imagination & bright, nimble musical numbers. Timothée Chalamet is a charisma factory. His full committal is intoxicating. Hugh Grant in exceptional IDGAF mode.”
Gizmodo senior reporter Germain Lussier heaped praise on Chalamet, calling him the reason alone to see the film. “He’s infinitely charming & a blast to watch,” Lussier wrote, although he added: “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.”
“‘Wonka’ is a super charming delight powered by an exceptional & pitch-perfect performance from Timothée Chalamet,” wrote film writer Perri Nemiroff. “It can get quite silly and there’s a few plot points that are a tad on the thin side, but that couldn’t stop such an impossibly sweet film with a hefty & very effective dose of sincerity from warming my heart.”
Warner Bros. is behind “Wonka” and has long wanted to bring a prequel film to the big screen. Reports surfaced over the years that Donald Glover, Ezra Miller and Ryan Gosling were being courted to play a new version of Willy Wonka, but it was only Timothée Chalamet who got the offer for King’s musical. And Chalamet didn’t even have to audition. King told Rolling Stone earlier this year that he was a Chalamet “stan” and thus knew the actor had the singing and dancing chops required to play Wonka.
“It was a straight offer because he’s great and he was the only person in my mind who could do it,” King said. “But because he’s Timothée Chalamet and his life is so absurd, his high school musical performances are on YouTube and have hundreds of thousands of views. So I knew from stanning for Timmy Chalamet that he could sing and dance really well.”
King continued, “I knew that was in his arsenal, but I didn’t know how good he was. When I spoke to him he was quite keen. He’d done tap dancing in high school and he was like, ‘I’d quite like to show people I can do that.’”
Chalamet responded to this news on the “Wonka” world premiere red carpet in London with laughter, saying, “That wasn’t exclusively what got me the part. He also liked the other movies I did!”
“Wonka” opens in U.K. theaters on Dec. 8, followed by its U.S. release on Dec. 15. Check out more first reactions below.