“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” Movie Review

Hello, everybody. You may not have heard, but at the time of writing, the world lost Gene Wilder at age 83. So I wanted to make a review that celebrates his life and focused on a movie that encompassed what I always saw in him. Many of you may be thinking of Young Frankenstein, but instead, I choose the role we all knew him for. Mel Stuart’s musical fantasy film released on June 30th, 1971, somehow only managing to rake in $4 million against its $3 million budget. Thankfully, the world banded together and made it hugely successful through re-releases and home video. It is the story of Charlie Bucket, a poor kid gets caught up in a competition to retrieve a Golden Ticket. This Golden Ticket will allow any winner and their family members to explore the reclusive candy magnate, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for one day. He and four other kids win, and get to witness the Factory firsthand for the first time in many, many years. Throughout the 99-minute feature, Charlie and these children get to see the various wonders of the Chocolate Factory. Whoever can make it all the way through while following each and every one of his rules will be awarded a lifetime supply of chocolate. And up until then, the film is entertaining enough, what with getting to see each of the characters and hear some musical numbers. However, when you actually get to meet Willy Wonka, that’s when the movie explodes. Gene Wilder as Wonka in this movie is among the greatest supporting characters in cinematic history; one of, definitely. His performance was the first time it dawned on me that a supporting character can steal the entire show. Not only is he a wonderfully fun person to watch on screen, but also a mysterious man whose secrets are tough to pinpoint. Fun fact, Gene Wilder actually added his intro for the character, when Willy Wonka walked out of the factory on a cane, performed a somersault, and then proceeded to act like a normal human being in the public. Not only did this establish the difficulty of when he’s telling the truth and when he’s lying, this moment was also the only condition for which Gene Wilder would agree to take the role. In the end, it became one of the strongest and most memorable character entrances for years to come. Of course, I have to address the other four children who embarked on this journey with Charlie and Willy. Veruca Salt is a spoiled little Britsh girl demanding anything she wants at the moment, Augustus Gloop is a gluttonous German boy willing to eat anything, Violet Beauregarde chews gum non-stop during the story and Mike Teaveee is obsessed with television no matter where he is. They’re all interesting in their own regard, especially during scenes in which it shows how they got their Golden Ticket and what they do inside the Factory. Though some of the time, they feel more like caricatures than actual characters, as a couple of them aren’t given fully developed arcs. But that’s not why you and I are here. We’re here also for the soundtrack. Almost all of the songs are memorable and catchy. The best one, hands down, is “Pure Imagination,” sung by none other than Gene Wilder himself. I’d argue that the purpose of this song is to ask viewers to embrace their own imaginations, as there is no place that compares to it. My favorites were also the ones sung by the Oompa-Loompas,  the dwarfish workforce under Willy Wonka’s employment. Often, they would sing about their poor labor conduct or the consequences of certain children’s actions. The most surprising thing about Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory is the reaction from Roald Dahl, author of the children’s book for which the movie is based on. He actually publicly disowned it upon release. I’ll have to politely disagree with his opinion. It’s just one of those classic movies that you’ll never get sick of, no matter how many times you watch it. A great soundtrack and fun story are all overshadowed by a title character that absolutely stole the movie. Why did it warrant a 2005 remake by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp in the iconic role? Don’t know.

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