Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h38
Release 12.8.1971
Director Mel Stuart
About A factory owner gives 5 children a chance to win a lifetime supply of sweets. Charlie, along with four odious children enter the factory. Disasters befall each of the children. Will Charlie survive?
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

The Good

  • Gene Wilder is the reason why they should stop attempting to remake this story. This batshit crazy portrayal, for me at least, is such perfection that anything else (outside of a time machine to cast Spike Milligan) pointless.
    Wilder has has this ability to be this perfect character no matter how old you are when you watch. As a kid, I appreciated the child-like flare he had. Now, I adore the deadpan “help. police. A murder.” that clearly went over my head thirty years ago.
  • The humour, despite the American feel to overall film, feels very British. It’s the tone, particularly the news reports, that are clever and sardonic that I just adore.
  • Mr Turkentine is an odd addition to what is an oddly paced film, but they are some of my favourite scenes and as close to having a Python on set. This film, this story was made for the Pythons. Could you imagine it? Cleese as the spy, Palin as the teacher, Idle as Grandpa Joe?! Damn, I want that time machine now.

The Bad

  • It takes way too long to get into the factory. I mean, I hate to make the comparison here, but if the first Harry Potter had this pacing?! Jesus, could you spend that much time with the Dursleys?
    There’s way too much fluff and songs- get rid of “Cheer up Charlie” at the very least- and it really slogs along for the first half for very little pay off. Yes, keep all the bits about the other shitty kids. But Wonkamania could have been cut short. The film spends too much time telling me I should want to root for Charlie. Sorry, but the more you give me, the more I don’t care. He’s just as annoying as the others, he’s just good at putting on a public face.
  • The placement of the film. It’s not England, it’s not America… but what seems to be an imaginary place, off the map. Take Veruca, for example. She’s got two pure bred Yorkshire parents, yet her accent is what, exactly? Then the factory worker who says all of three or four words is American? Don’t fuck with my head!

The Ugly

  • Grandpa Joe is one shady mother fucker. Can’t get up for twenty years, but has no problem when it comes to taking Charlie on a fun day out? Bullshit! For one thing, I’ve lived with someone who rarely got out of bed; they fucking smell rank! Charlie ain’t taking Grandpa Joe anywhere.
  • The music. I am not a fan of 1970s musicals. Scrooge with Albert Finney, Oliver!, hell even Saturday Night Fever gets a firm “pass” from me. The only musical aspect I like is the little interludes from the Oompa Loompas. But then, I fucking hate the Oopmpa Loompas and everything they’re alluding to.

Final Thoughts

It’s better than Burton’s attempt, but I think the problem is more to do with the Dahl legacy than anything else. If you’ve never seen it, you must. For Wilder alone, you must put up with all the other shit.

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