Wonka 2023 Movies Reviews: Critics Share Strong First Reactions

By Savannah Sanders Updated:
Timothee Chalamet as Willy Wonka 2023 Movie wallpaper poster

Critics have posted their initial responses to Warner Bros.'s upcoming film, Wonka, starring Timothée Chalamet. 

Set to release on December 15, Wonka is a musical version of Willy Wonka's origin story inspired by Roald Dahl's whimsical classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Wonka Movie Reviews & Reactions

Timothee Chalamet as Wonka
Warner Bros.

Following the first critics' screenings of 2023's Wonka movie, the first batch of reviews and reactions have been shared on X. 

Collider's Perri Nemiroff described the origin story as "a super charming delight" and praised Chalamet's "pitch-perfect performance;" however, she did note the film "can get quite silly:" 

"'Wonka' is a super charming delight powered by an exceptional & pitch-perfect performance from Timothée Chalamet. 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."

Daniel Howat shared a similar reaction, acknowledging Wonka as "unabashedly silly" but "sweet enough to overcome any minor bumps in the road:" 

"'Wonka' is unabashedly silly, and a perfectly charming family film. 'Wonka'’s world is brilliantly designed, capturing the wonder of his early years. Embracing a quirky, heartwarming tone, 'Wonka' is funny and sweet enough to overcome any minor bumps in the road."

Critic Rosa Parra had nothing but praise for Wonka and the "magnetic, delightful" Timothee Chalamet while also noting the film's "rewatchability factor:"

"'Wonka' cements Timothee Chalamet as one of the greatest up and coming actors. He's magnetic, delightful & beautifully walks the line between naivete & cleverness. The film is filled with charm, joy & hope. It's a perfect holiday film. It definitely has the rewatchability factor."

Variety's Courtney Howard not only praised Wonka's "musical numbers" but Chalamet as well, describing the actor as "a charisma factory:"

"'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."

While Discussing Film's Andrew J. Salazar's review was slightly more critical, admitting "Wonka is far from perfect," he was positive about the film's musical numbers and called its "visual imagination delightful:"

"'Wonka' is far from perfect but director Paul King's whimsical charm is undeniable. The musical numbers hit, the visual imagination is delightful, & even Hugh Grant's Oompa Loompa is a scene-stealer. Timothée Chalamet is great even if his characterization is often questionable."

Critic Matt Rorabeck kept his reaction short but fittingly sweet, posting:

"I think I’m allowed to talk about 'Wonka' now… and I hate to report that I think it absolutely rules."

While Forbes' Simon Thompson agrees with the positive responses to both Chalamet and Hugh Grant, he admits that this Paul King project doesn't "quite reach the charming and beguiling heights of the 'Paddington' movies:"

"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."

Kaitlyn Booth from Bleeding Cool confessed Wonka "took me by surprise with how much I liked it," calling it a "great family film for the holidays:"

"'Wonka' took me by surprise with how much I liked it. It's whimsical and taps into that sense of wonder we got from the original while doing its own thing. Timothée Chalamet channels the energy of Gene without doing an impression. Great family film for the holidays"

Critic Rama's Screen also pointed out Chalamet's original performance and how the actor "didn't emulate Gene Wilder. He was just doing his own thing:"

"'WONKA' was a visual wonder that left me smiling ear to ear. Playful & magical Hugh Grant's Oompa-Loompa was hilarious Timothée Chalamet didn't emulate Gene Wilder. He was just doing his own thing. He sang & danced like he was light as a feather"

Tessa Smith from Mama's Geeky called Wonka "one of the biggest surprises of the year" and a "must watch:"

"'Wonka' is a magical, whimsical, top-notch musical filled with jaw dropping performances, humor, and a whole lot of charm! As one of the biggest surprises of the year, it is a must watch - especially for 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' fans! Timothee Chalamet SHINES!"

Critic Wendy Lee Szany also shared a positively strong reaction to the Paul King film, calling Wonka a "delight" and offering some advice to theater-goers:

"'Wonka' is a delight! Loved watching the story of young Willy Wonka unfold. Timothee Chalamet brought the perfect amount of charm, naivete, & wonder. Huge Grant steals every scene he's in. Keegan Michael-Key was under-utilized. Don't go into this movie w/o buying chocolate!"

Lastly, Ricky Vàlero posted "Go see this movie!" while also praising Calah Lane's performance as Willy Wonka's kindred spirit, Noodle:

"'Wonka' delivers a tasty spin on a tale that's quite familiar. Timothee Chalamet dazzles with the perfect balance of charisma, charm, and a perfect singing voice. Also, the supporting cast is great with my hats off to Calah Lane who was great! Go see this movie!"

Can Wonka Win the Holiday Box Office?

Apart from a few critiques, the first reactions to Wonka were overwhelmingly positive with widespread praise for Timothée Chalamet's portrayal of the iconic chocolatier.

At the moment, it remains to be seen if audiences will feel as strongly as critics; but regardless, Wonka already has all the ingredients for a box office success.

In addition to the draw of Chalamet, Wonka has a family-friendly rating with a holiday release and little competition, especially in light of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom's disappointing tracking.

A ramp-up in marketing coupled with this wave of positive reviews just might be Wonka's golden ticket to the box office and the title of the holiday movie of the year. 

Wonka arrives in theaters on Friday, December 15.

- In This Article: Wonka
Release Date
December 15, 2023
Hugh Grant
Timothée Chalamet
- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.