Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
(2019 Summer Blockbuster Movie Series)
"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be."
I had not seen Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory since I was a kid, and this was such a delightful rewatch with my own children becoming completely glued to the screen from the first sight of candy. An indicator of how the universal themes of this sweet musical odyssey have a timeless appeal.
In the story, the mysterious candy maker Mr. Wonka holds a contest by hiding a golden ticket inside the packages of 5 of his world-famous Wonka bars. At one point our main character Charlie looks for a ticket in a treat that appears to be a moon pie, so I am not sure what he was thinking there (lol). The movie does a great job of showing that Charlie is your average nice kid from a family that does not have a lot of money, without belaboring that point too much. Other than all his grandparents sleeping in the same bed all day long, or his Grandfather giving up his tobacco money to buy more candy.
Charlie has a very special relationship with his grandfather and the excitement they share as they open a couple of Wonka bars together was build up so well, and even those small special moments gave me some good movie chills. While Charlie is very humble yet hopeful about his place in life, the other children that find golden tickets first are anything but. For some reason as a kid I thought this first section of the movie really dragged on, but wow did it fly by watching it all these years later.
"She was a bad egg."
The four children come off being very spoiled, and one of them even has a father that has devoted his entire factory toward the pursuit of finding his kid a golden ticket. Only for her to relish it just for herself once it is found. Here is a quick breakdown of the other winners:
- A boy that is obsessed with TV, especially westerns
- A girl that is always chewing gum
- And a German boy that eats too much in general
It was neat to see these side comedic sketches included throughout the first half to give us a sense of the scale of this Wonka bar search, which mostly involved newscasts. Some additional unique stylistic elements that you would not expect to see from an older kids movie include the words appearing on-screen during the oompa loompa song, and that nightmarish boat ride.
While being such a larger than life character, Willy Wonka is wonderfully played by Gene Wilder who plays this role so subtly. As soon as he let's the winners through the gate he already seems convinced that this whole contest was a big waste of time. Then all the anticipation of seeing what is actually in the factory is a blast to see play out as the group journeys through each part of his wondrous factory. But keep an eye out for a few traps along the way that cause the spoiled children to reap what they sow. It was a nice touch to see the parent's concern, but then have no choice but to carry on, or eventually get diverted to help their bratty child. Watching this with my kids I can only hope they were taking in this theme that kids should avoid having such rotten behavior.
I have seen the chocolate river pipe scene many times over the years, and I still got a good laugh out of seeing that play out. That everlasting gobstopper looks way too jagged to actually suck on. And can you only imagine how fun it would be if fizzy pop could make you fly. Charlie and his Grandfather certainly enjoy it in one of the movie's most charming scenes.
I was surprised to see how much of a lasting appeal Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has, and I would definitely recommend featuring it in one of your upcoming family movie nights.
"But Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted ... What happened? ... He lived happily ever after."
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching ... SKOL!