Monday, December 11, 2023

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

No better time to take a small jaunt down memory lane.

I'm sure for my generation and the one previous, this film has been an early watch in our childhoods but I'm rather curious as to what people think of it today. Whether they be kids or adults, because while I've always liked the movie I've never loved it. It's not been a staple of my childhood, but I'm sure it is for someone. So the story goes a poor young lad named Charlie is living his less than good life when the reclusive owner of the biggest candy making factory in the world sends out five golden tickets to gain entry to the factory and see all the fantastical and wonderous things within. Now what I really have to commend the film for is actually the fact that it's age kinda helps it work. It's shot in 1970s West Germany, the clothing and production design are embedded in the 70s, and you'd be surprised how much the film...not necessarily lolligags about but rathers does a fair bit of world building cause you see news coverage, and TV interviews, and even just random scenes of superflous characters, which makes it almost seem like you're watching a piece of real world history. All the contraptions and inventions in the factory are absurd and ludicrous but have that children's story twinge to it like you really just stepped into another world entirely. Yeah you can poke fun at the movie almost from minute one to end credits a lot of people do, but credit goes to all the people who worked on the movie to make it as good as they did. Speaking of children's stories this was one, in a series of books written by Roald Dahl the guy who also wrote The Witches (90s family film that probably traumatized a few kids), The BFG (not to be associated with Doom), and also Matilda (underground gem feverishly lauded by adults my age), and it may be a bit of a shock to learn he really did despise and detest this adaptation of his work. Also surprising was that the movie didn't do all that well in theaters and more got it's reputation through video rentals as time went on. I can very firmly say the reason to watch the film is Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and the film does a pretty good job building up this mystery of the factory and it's proprietor I mean you don't even see the guy until the 40 minute mark in this one hour and forty minute film, but once he's there you can't. Look. Away. And I LOVE the potrayal here, cause you can't get a read on him! He's kind and yet dispassionate at instances, he clearly is a well read individual but he's a bit off his damn rocker at the same time, I mean you kinda have to be to come up with all this edible foolishness but there's this wide eyed sparkle and stare about him not far off from a mad scientist in one certain shot. Maybe that's why they picked him for Young Frankenstein. Gene is a walking talking marvel in this picture and still probably won't be topped anytime soon. Not ever to discredit the kids in this movie, in all seriousness this is actually pretty great child acting for the time, each with memorable and easily definable characters with individual flaws. It does take on a Grimm's Fairy Tales aspect with each kid having a vice or deadly sin as it were and it bites them in the ass sooner rather than later, but even Charlie is still a kid with wants and woes and isn't pigeonholed into a "good kid" category. It's interesting to watch it again and pick up on so much that didn't even register as a kid, even if the tunnel really doesn't make that much sense still and yeahhh let's discuss the tunnel shall we. Um, I love it. It's a bad acid trip in the middle of a children's film, has the balls to show a live chicken beheaded in full, scary ass poetry is recited which of course I know by heart, and ends almost as quickly as it began. Why??? How?? I don't know why it's there or how they came to that decision to make it, but I'm so happy they did. I really love when kid's films get just creepy and weird, it happens more with films from the 70s and 80s, another great example that I see no one talk about is the scene where Charlie is outside the gates of the factory at nightfall and for absolutely no reason this man who has a rickety cart filled with friggin' cleavers and butcher knives recites some creepy ass poetry about little men then walks off. Why is it there? Beats me man but it's something memorable. Maybe there's a message to the offbeat weird shit, maybe it's just to give people the heebie jeebies. Probably the latter. And it's a musical to boot, there's a fair few songs in this film! Now I attribute that more to the fact that it's a children's film and that's more common in such features, but the songs aren't bad even if some are strangely brief. It's just such a tiny bit of an anomaly this movie, I dare say there isn't another film like it even if compared to next time's review, I'm sure it was an oddball picture when it released and it hasn't lost it's unique individualistic bizzare quality since. It's a sure fire watch for the sole reason of seing Gene do what he does beautifully and make an opinion of your own. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10, Tim Burton version next time.

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