Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of the great sacred cows of cinema - a movie so beloved, so defined by its spirit and lead performance, that remaking it seems like folly. That didn’t stop Tim Burton, of course; his 2005 adaptation, while more faithful to the Roald Dahl novel than the 1971 “original,” is remembered more for representing the CGI-laden creative slide of its director than for refreshing a classic.
There is one director in whom I’d have absolute trust rebooting the Chocolate Factory, however - and I didn’t even consider it until now.
According to a Variety roundup published overnight, Paddington and Paddington 2 director Paul King is in talks with Warner Bros. to direct just such a reboot, from a script by former Pixar and SNL staff writer Simon Rich. For one of the very few times in my life, I can say “I can scarcely contain my enthusiasm,” and mean it.
Without exaggeration: King’s whimsical, cheeky, good-hearted style is note-perfect for a Chocolate Factory movie. Honed on cult British comedy show The Mighty Boosh and brought to breathtaking scale in the Paddingtons, King’s directing leans towards the mischievous and bizarre, achieving results with imaginative staging and old-school filmmaking tricks rather than visual effects (though he’s no stranger to those either).
This project is almost certainly the Oz, the Great and Powerful-style Wonka prequel that’s been kicking around at Warner Bros for a couple years - which sounds terrible on the surface, but I’ve confidence King could do something special with it. Though tempered by having once been excited for Burton’s take, I’m giddy imagining what kind of magic King might create. Hell, he might even be able to figure out how to deal with the Oompa-Loompas without making them hellaciously offensive.
Oh, and you haven’t seen the Paddington movies, believe me when I say that irrespective of your age, gender identity, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, you should - they’ll all be reset to “Paddington” anyway. Paddington 2, reviewed at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, can still be seen cinemas, if you hurry.