Wonka shines in Director King’s British ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ | Films | Entertainment

In cinemas now

American star Timothée Chalamet hits on the perfect blend of pluck and innocence as a wide-eyed young Wonka.

King tips a top hat to Gene Wilder’s confectioner by opening his film with the refrain of Pure Imagination, the near-­perfect song from Wilder’s 1971 musical.

And Chalamet’s charming and tuneful turn is closer to Wilder’s Wonka than Johnny Depp’s creepier version from Tim Burton’s 2005 film.

We meet the dreamer on a boat singing A Hatful Of Dreams, one of six witty new songs from The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon.

Wonka’s spent the past seven years collecting exotic ­ingredients (his soft centres were harvested in “the mallow marshes of Peru”) for his magical sweeties.

But his plan to open his first shop in a fantasy city are hamstrung by a villainous chocolate cartel (Paterson Joseph, Mathew Baynton and Matt Lucas) and a corrupt cop (Keegan-Michael Key).

Then he’s tricked into years of hard labour in the laundry of Mrs Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and teams up with an orphan called Noodle, played by Calah Lane (the US child star, not the Liver Birds writer).

Before King turned his attentions to a marmalade-scoffing bear, he was the unhinged genius who directed the BBC sitcom The Mighty Boosh.

And there’s a very British sense of humour – a touch of The Goon Show and perhaps a sprinkling of The Goodies – in the film’s surreal diversions, which include run-ins with a chocolate-stealing Oompa Loompa (a digitally shrunken Hugh Grant) and a heist at a cathedral where Rowan Atkinson’s corrupt cleric commands 500 chocoholic monks.

It’s the humour that ties the story together.

This new family classic could be this Christmas’s “golden ticket”.

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