Willy Wonka is an immigrant fresh off the boat in a new land with big dreams of making and selling chocolate, inspired by his mother (Sally Hawkins), but he has no money to his name. Desperate for a place to stay after wasting all his cash, he takes a suspiciously cheap room deal from Mrs. Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and Bleacher (Tom Davis), unable to read the fine print forcing him into decades of indentured servitude. Wonka’s plans to pay off his debts by selling chocolate also face the roadblock of the Chocolate Cartel of Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas), and Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton), who are in cahoots with the chief of police (Keegan-Michael Key) and the chocoholic priest Father Julius (Rowan Atkinson) to shut down all competition.
Wonka teams up with Scrubbit’s other hapless victims to surreptitiously build their chocolate empire — though they occasionally have to resupply ingredients stolen by an Oompa-Loompa (Hugh Grant) seeking payback for a previous cocoa theft. Wonka’s most significant friend in this group is Noodle (Calah Lane), an orphaned girl who teaches him how to read. Wonka’s magical confections prove so popular with the public that he’s eventually able to open his own store. The opening, however, is sabotaged by the Cartel, who pay off Scrubbit and Bleacher to poison the store’s supply with hair-growing yeti milk. At his lowest point, Wonka is given an ultimatum — if he leaves town, all his friends’ debts will be paid off.