How often do you make time for pure imagination? In today’s fast-paced world of breaking news and over-eager influencers, is there still room for flights of fancy anymore? What about having a great time simply for the fun of it?
So much of today’s culture and entertainment seems to have some sort of a subtle agenda. Like, it’s not enough to simply tell a good story, but it has to make some sort of a point.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, the world we live in demands introspection, evaluation, and critique. Everything in popular media is born into the Zeitgeist of the times, so it’s only natural that music, literature, and the films of the day reflect that.
But as much as our myriad forms of storytelling mirror the moment, there will always be a place for tales that step entirely outside of that frame and into the world of pure imagination.
We’ve seen our share of historical fiction. Visions of future utopias or dystopias run the gamut from hopeful to hysterically hellish, (Idiocracy, anyone?). And of course fantasy blended with current social commentary is a huge recipe for success if done correctly, (looking at you Barbie!)
Well, a recent trip to the cinema was all it took to restore my faith in pure fantasy. I’ll admit, we were a bit late to the party, since this was marketed as a holiday movie, but the upside was that we had the entire theater to ourselves!
The film was Wonka, and before I go any further, let me say this, if you haven’t seen it yet, you might still find it in a cinema near you so make haste and reserve your tickets today.
Rarely do I divert my Monday morning notes into the realm of movie reviews, but when I do, it means I was sufficiently blown away to make it worthwhile. To my mind, Wonka is a timeless classic in every way.
As someone who is a lifelong fan of Roald Dahl, I was skeptical beforehand as to whether it would do justice to his sensibilities and wry sense of humor. Prequels are a tricky thing — the creators are imagining the story before the story began.
The makers of Wonka managed to channel the tone of the book and the sensibilities of the 1971 film with Gene Wilder without going overboard in the least. Timothée Chalamet is perfectly cast as the youngster who would grow into Wilder’s Wonka later on. (The film seemed to sidestep Johnny Depp’s slightly sinister adaptation entirely.)
The overall atmosphere and aesthetic was that of a pre-movie-code song and dance comedy drama that’s truly appropriate for all ages. It’s a rare film that could delight (without disturbing) a six-year-old, as well as appealing to a curmudgeon into his sixth decade like me.
Prior to the film, we were subjected to several over-the-top trailers for modern animated films aimed at youngsters. We had to ask ourselves, “Is this really what kids are looking for?” The violence and intensity of the special effects and action were unsettling at the very least, if not traumatic. Badgers morphing into squadrons of bombers and the like are nightmare fuel for me, I don’t quite understand how kung fu and pandas are supposed to fit together.
So when Wonka started, and we slipped into the sweet and sublime song that begins the story, it was a huge relief. I was surprised at how deftly dance, music, and physical comedy was woven into the narrative.
Far be it from me to give away the story, if you haven’t seen it, I wouldn’t want to be the spoiler. But if you’ve got a couple hours to spare, you might still find it playing in a theater, so grab a youngster or two if you can, or simply bring your inner child out to play. Wonka is a winner not to be missed!
Much love and happy moviegoing till next week!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine