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At the opening credits of Wonka, a lovely version of the familiar music from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory began to play.  The warm glow of nostalgia made me smile.  It is a worthy pre-story to the beloved 1964 novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl, and  Mel Stuart's 1971 movie.  It is more worthy than the 2005 re-make by Tim Burton.

While paying homage to the original film, it also brings a sense of wonder and innocence to the Wonka character before the weary world ages him with a bit of cynicism.  It also provides believable inspirations for what is to come later, e.g., the Golden Ticket.  With modern technology, the story is told against a backdrop of the beautiful Galeries Gourmet, where the world's finest chocolates are made, and the seedier side of any big city where the poor, aspiring magician, inventor and chocolatier finds himself.  The fantasy scenes of his dreams and the realization of his chocolate shoppe are wondrous.

Timothee Chalamet does a nice turn as the young Wonka.  He is an undeterred dreamer despite the obstacles he faces, and you sense the underlying current of darkness from his past.  Like Gene Wilder who originated the role, Chalamet is not a singer or dancer by trade.  He was cast in several musicals during his time at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Music & Art and Performing Arts including as the Emcee in Cabaret.   His efforts in Wonka come across as natural, not forced, and the songs and choreography seem to be produced in a way that play to his talents.  He has been nominated for a Golden Globe for this role.

Newcomer Calah Lane plays Noodle, an orphan who becomes Willy's co-conspirator and assistant.  Twelve years old at the time of filming, she holds her own amongst the many veterans in the cast including Jim Carter, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins and Hugh Grant. Of note is Olivia Colman in the written-to-be-scene-stealing role of Mrs. Scrubbitt.  I don't think it will win her another Oscar, but it is fun to watch.

At the end of the day, Wonka is a fairy tale drawn from the traditions of that genre and from the original source material. Director Paul King has created a warmly nostalgic film for the entire family to enjoy.