Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ★★★★

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, adapted from Roald Dahl's children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is one of those iconic films that I could acknowledge a reference to, even when I hadn't watched it. Some notable references include the Futurama episode "Fry and the Slurm Factory", the South Park episode "Le Petit Tourette" and a reimagining of the Hell Tunnel in Thor: Ragnarok. Now that I've finally seen this film, I can say that I highly enjoyed it, but there are some things about the film that seem questionable, to say the least. I should also say that I won't compare the film to its source material, as I haven't read it, and I won't compare it to the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation, as I honestly don't remember much about that film.

The greatest strength of this film of course lies in Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. This man, who only lives by his own rules and is kind of a gatekeeping prick, is an absolute blast to watch, even when he's being an asshole. He never hides his nefarious nature, yet he constantly distracts us with his charm, flair for foreign languages and a twisted logic that only the most childish minds can somewhat comprehend. I like that this film also contrasts Charlie's humble behavior to the ego-driven and nitpicky spoiled brats, as if to say that you have to give in to the emotional impact, rather than pick apart every plothole or logical inconsistency if you want to enjoy this film. The songs are all great, and they never feel forced, and that Hell Tunnel scene is understandably the most memorable scene of this film. The production design is also great for its time, and I loved the simplicity behind the ludicrous innovations that Willy Wonka is responsible for. It was definitely something that complemented his deceptive character brilliantly.

Where the film stumbles a bit for me, and where I become a bit nitpicky myself, is with the plot. I loved the idea that everyone in the world went mad about the hunt for the golden tickets, I did find it somewhat contrived, when Wonka's plan was to find a kid who could take over his factory. I mean, what would he have done if it turned out the winners were five forty-year old blokes from the pub around the corner? It would have just made more sense, and more in character for Wonka, if he had just cherry-picked some random children from around the world. The whole subplot about Slugworth was kind of a forced plot thread as well, as it only played any significant part for the climax, and the other children could have just as easily have sold Wonka out. Furthermore, why would he even pick Charlie by the end? I mean, wouldn't he be opposed to the use of Oompa Loompa slave labor, with his social background in mind? In that regard, it didn't make sense to me that Wonka showed that much schadenfreude for the spoiled brats when they got their comeuppance.

In conclusion, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one hell of a fun ride, even if it has some confusing elements to it. Finally, this film also has one hell of a funny alternative title in Danish, which is Drengen, der druknede i chokoladesovsen (which translates to The Boy Who Drowned in the Chocolate Sauce)

Patrick liked these reviews