||Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
1971 - G - 100 Mins.
|Director: Mel Stuart|
|Written By: Roald Dahl|
|Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone |
|Review by: John Ulmer
Fantasy sparks imagination, and in a film like "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," that's probably a good thing, because applying any sense of logic to this story will give you a brain tumor.
The film centers around a small, poor, basically-homeless boy named Charlie. In his world, there is a chocolate company named Willy Wonka (which now does exist because of this movie), owned by a mysterious man with the same name: Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder). Wonka has started a worldwide phenomenon as he states that he has put five gold tickets in candy bars around the world. When all five are found, he will invite all the ticket holders into his mysterious candy factory, and show them his wonderful world, filled with a room made completely of candy, and Umpah Lumpahs, little short orange men with green hair.
But Mr. Slugworth, who owns Slugworth Candy, wants to put a stop to Wonka's newest creation: The Everlasting Gobstopper (which is now made by Willy Wonka chocolate). After each ticket is found, he visits the ticket holders and tells them who he is, and that he wants them to bring (steal) back the Everlasting Gobstopper f so he can study it and beat Wonka at his own game.
So as Charlie finds a gold ticket and goes to Wonka's chocolate factory with his grandfather, he is tempted to steal one of the gobstoppers, but will he do it?
I didn't always like this movie very much. I always liked the scene with the edible room and the Umpah Lumpahs, but everything else seemed odd and slow-moving to a certain degree. It's like taking Lewis Carroll and putting him in a room with Gene Wilder. That's what you get out of author Rohald Dahl's book, and the same can be said for the film. It has an odd sense of reality and twisted sense of humor.
For example, all the children get whisked away one by one. For being a childrens' movie, this is quite odd, because I do not often see children being taken off screen like they are dead, especially in a childrens' story. One boy gets sucked through a tube of chocolate, to go into the boiling room; one girl turns into a giant balloon, and one boy gets transported into a television and can't get back out. All interesting but nevertheless deeply strange scenes.
Gene Wilder was the perfect choice for the strange Willy Wonka--he fits him like a glove. Wilder doesn't seem to appear in films much anymore, but I guess he ended on a high note. "The Producers," "Young Frankenstein," and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" all on his resume, I'd say he has quite a good one. I looked at his most recent films, and in 1999 he appeared in and wrote a made-for-TV film; after that he hasn't really been in much. I guess that's because he sensed the bad films coming and wanted out before he started appearing in more TV movies.
But anyway, Wilder is perfect. He seems to state the odd as if there is nothing odd about it. I love the scene where he talks about the Umpah Lumpahs and where they live, and the geography teacher in the room says, "I'm a geography teacher, and"--he cuts her off, saying, "Oh, good, then you know all about the bad place? Why, the [somethings] would eat ten Umpah Loompahs a day and think nothing of it!"
His tale is odd, yet strangely entertaining.
I've never really been one for tales of oddness. I like "Alice in Wonderland," but even that is a bit too odd for my taste. I seem to like realistic films (well, at least films that take place in our world). I like comedies, action, drama, sci-fi--the works; but I've never been one for fantasies.
But if one film has ever sparked imagination, nothing has as much as "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."