Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Full of “Pure Imagination!”
First off, before I review this, my review is dedicated to Gene Wilder, the man who took on the role of Willy Wonka in this movie. He passed away yesterday and his passing inspired me to review this movie. RIP, and onto the review.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came out in 1971, and to this day it is still one of the most talked about family films known to man. It is based off the book of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which was one of those books I always remembered from my childhood, and I can also say the same for this movie. I also saw the 2005 movie adaptation directed by Tim Burton, which I’ll be honest, I actually loved as much as you might hate me for saying it, although that’s another story.
The premise of this movie is that there is a chocolate company called Wonka, it is known for making the world’s best choclate and candy related products. One day, at the time in which this movie is set, the doors to the factory are locked to let nobody in the factory. Every human employee that once worked there, doesn’t work there anymore, and one day Wonka decides that they are going to let people in the factory for a tour. The idea was that five golden tickets would be inside five ordinary Wonka bars. Whoever finds one said golden ticket will be able to embark on a tour of the factory along with someone they know from their kin. Speaking of the story, the buildup on the story itself to the point where we get to the chocolate factory, is SURPRISINGLY interesting, even by today’s standards. Like seriously, ALMOST half the movie is buildup and it’s entertaining. There are a few cool musical numbers, one was hit or miss but I don’t really care, we got introduced to all of the winners of the golden tickets and each one was intriguing and it did a good job at highlighting their individual personalities. There’s also a cool little subplot introduced along the way.
The character that the movie focuses mostly on is Charlie Bucket. He is in a poor family who doesn’t really get much to satisfy themselves. Charlie lives with his grandparents (not sure if any of them are great or which side they’re on, but it doesn’t really matter) and his parents. They all live in a small home, the grandparents all sleep in the same bed, and Charlie wants more than what he’s getting. I don’t blame him because he barely has enough to support himself along with his family. Peter Ostrum plays Charlie in this movie and MAN, whoever did casting for this movie deserves a medal because for a child actor, this guy can blow many others out of the gate. The same goes for basically all the child actors present in this film.
The next character I’ll touch upon is Augustus Gloop. He is essentially this obese kid who never stops eating chocolate. You can tell he has such a fascination with chocolate just by his size. The point where he won his ticket is where we are introduced to somebody who plays a big role in the film, but I won’t talk much about him during the review because some things are better left mysterious. This character along with a few others in the movie are characters I can relate to. I’m not fat, but I find movie theater popcorn and Lays Wavy potato chips insatiable. Right now I don’t really have to worry about it because my metabolism is off the charts, we’ll just have to see what comes up. Granted I don’t have abs but I’m definitely not clogging up space.
Up next is Veruca Salt. Her character is basically a spoiled brat whose dad is in the nut business. Throughout the movie she keeps bragging about things she wants. One of her recurring lines is “I want it now!” and it really added a lot of personality to her character. Her dad was happy to tend to this girl which if I was a father and my daughter or son was like this, I’d be irritated. There are some connections I can make with Veruca. I want a lot of cool stuff as well. However unlike Veruca I know when to save my money. Also I just tell my mother to never give me an allowance, essentially because I want her to keep her money the way she sees necessary. That one wasn’t a connection, but it’s something I think about.
Violet Bereguarde is next on the list and she is a world record gum chewer. When it was announced she won her golden ticket on the news she talked about laying off gum and directing full attention to candy bars since they have the “ticket things.” You can tell that this character is a winner based on her attitude and unlike the character the Tim Burton movie, she is very energetic and doesn’t put other people down, which made me like her as a character.
Last of the ticket winners is Mike Teavee. This guy would be me if I were ignoring society altogether. Do I have a TV problem? Not really. I make an effort to livetweet certain shows on Twitter and I watch TV in my room on my 4K TV past 2 in the morning on some nights but that’s about it. When his character was introduced they NAILED his personality. He eats TV dinners all the time, he’s never eaten at the table, and as everyone is interviewing him, he’s watching TV and ignoring them! The representation of this character is spot on!
Let’s not forget Gene Wilder’s interpretation as Willy Wonka. This was one of the movie’s highlights. His character flew off the pages of Rohld Dahl’s book and whoever designed his suit can live life on a peaceful island with no intruders because it looks great. One thing I noticed more and more for his character is that he was funny, which was something I never put in my mind when watching this movie as a young child. There was this one line when one child got into a disasterous situation and their parent told everyone (mainly Willy Wonka) to help them out of the situation and Wonka just says “Help, police, murder.” Not to mention, it’s a dark joke in a family film! A joke of that tone worked a light film such as this!
Inside Wonka’s factory, there were tons of areas to explore. One in particular being the chocolate room. To this day, that set still dazzles me. It’s large, feels like a real place despite how glossy it is, and it just sucks you in and makes you become Veruca Salt and say something like “I want a choclate room! I want a chocolate waterfall! I want eatable grass! I want it now!” Although I can imagine you wouldn’t be saying that out loud. This is also where Willy Wonka sings “Pure Imagination,” one of the other highlights of the film for me.
Another thing a lot of people still think about when this film is mentioned today are the Oompa-Loompas. In the movie they do these musical numbers and they are all very similar. Does it matter? No. Because it is all very catchy that you don’t care in the end. Fun fact for those who never read the book, this was actually never in the book, this was an original thought by everyone involved in the movie’s production. I don’t really care because it was still all very well done.
However this film does have flaws. They are those sort of flaws that maybe you don’t notice at first but you may grow to notice them in the meantime if you look hard enough. Two of them have to do with vehicles. A boat comes along the choclate river. There are eight people left, not including Mr. Wonka, and if the two people who haven’t left before the boat arrived were still here, they would have to stand on the boat. However the boat had JUST enough seats for everyone onboard. So that’s one flaw, and the other is the scene where everyone is about to go into the Wonkavision room, they take a vehicle that seems to run on and spray cola related materials. The problem I found with this vehicle is the same problem I found with the other vehicle. The seating capacity is just enough for everyone. Also, just a thought, why did you need to take that vehicle to the TV room when you could have easily walked through the path to it. For the scenes in place, it seemed that the door at the end path of the second vehicle could have possibly lead into the Wonkavision room. If not, maybe everyone didn’t want to waste time walking to the room, which I get, you don’t want to waste tape, and it may feel unneeded in the very end.
Willy Wonka and the Choclate Factory may be one of the best movies of the 70’s, and I hope years from now it is still talked about so future generations can see it for themselves. Gene Wilder, if you were still alive today I wish you could have seen this, because I’m going to give Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory a 10/10. They call this a family movie, but honestly, almost every time I watched this movie, I watched it by myself, and I don’t regret any of the times I watched it. Stay tuned for more reviews. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!