Jared’s review published on Letterboxd:
What a fascinating film.
Based on one of Roald Dahl's brilliant works, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is almost as good as Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film is so strange and unique, completely different from the film I remember as a child. Ethically, it's entirely black and white, so morally manipulative the film relieves you from over thinking it, and instead allows you to revel in the offbeat journey it takes you on. There's images of decapitations, kidnapping jokes, and absurdist humor to be found here, truly an ambitious blend for a child's film.
Gene Wilder's performance here as Wonka is one of the best I have ever seen. It's so enormously layered and darkly comedic, he electrifies every moment he is on camera. His ability to convey both childish wonder and restrained anger simultaneously is what makes his performance legendary. Speaking in riddles and sarcasm, there's more humor to be found here, seemingly effortlessly, then there is to be found in 95% of straightforward comedies.
As mentioned earlier, the obvious morality of the film is almost comical. As young Charlie whips a loaf of bread out of his backpack, his six family members all exclaim in excitement for the supposed feast to come. The other four children are so cartoonishly idiotic, so blatantly annoying that there's nothing you want more than to see them almost drown or explode. It's so confident in it's premise and simplicity that the film is allowed to elevate effects and whimsical setpieces beyond the norm of it's time.
Excuse the banal platitude, but Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a powerful piece of pure imagination. With intricate design, delightful music, impeccable performances and a triumphant story, Wonka deserves it's place near the top of it's genre. Wilder's performance here is a thing to behold, and this film has instantly skyrocketed into my top 30 films of all time.
It's so nice when a childhood classic holds up.