Willy Wonka definitely takes things in a different direction from the other films that I’ve reviewed lately. It is still decently old like some of the other films, but not to the same extent. Also, this is probably the first comedy film that I’ve seen since Abbott and Costello and Wonka pulls it off quite well. The film is very over the top, but does so without being completely ridiculous either, which is a good thing. It could also just be that the writing is good enough for you to be able to take it all in stride. Regardless, I can say that this film definitely did something right!
Charlie grew up in a very poor family. They struggled to even get enough food to eat during the day. It was certainly rough, but one day the world became intrigued by the return of Willy Wonka. The business man had vanished without a trace many years ago, but he has now sent 5 Golden Tickets across the world. They are hidden in his chocolate bars. The 5 lucky individuals who find the tickets will be given a tour of his original facility. Nobody has set foot in there for several years so the whole planet is pumped to finally have some people on the inside.
I have to say that this is definitely a great business idea by Mr. Wonka as well. We see people buying thousands of chocolate bars and whole countries stop to try and grab this. America even got a little worries towards the end as Russia managed to grab a ticket first. Luckily, we still had the most representatives by the end anyway. One lady is not even sure if she should give in to the demands of the kidnappers who took away her husband. They want the chocolate bars her kingdom has and that may be too steep of a price. The world really panics the whole time that the bars are out and it’s great. While I do like the second half quite a bit as well, this first half is what really makes this film a success. It’s very crazy and illogical, but in a way that’s still realistic enough where it doesn’t seem silly. It’s just great writing and world building all around. The hype is handled perfectly and really sets you up for the Hunger Games esque ride that is to come. The only thing that holds it back is how obvious it is that Charlie will come out on top. This film should have gone the “multiple main characters” method so you wouldn’t be sure who would win.
I’d say that part 2 of the film starts off once they actually get inside. Wonka tells the kids that they have to make it to the end to get their prize. This proves to be a very difficult task since the kids want to touch things and gum up the works. Can Charlie resist the temptation of immediate gratification and riches for the ultimate prize or will he finally make a crucial mistake? It’ll be tough since a con man has went up to each of the kids and told them to snag him one of Wonka’s new ultra snacks and he’ll pay them handsomely for it. It’s just one snack right……
There were 5 lucky tickets so that means we have 5 main families. Lets start off with Augustus, the kid who loves eating. It’s easy to see why he wouldn’t last long in this environment since he is constantly surrounded by food. He didn’t play the match up right and went full aggro instead of a calm wait and snatch strategy. It ultimately cost him the gold prize and he wasn’t quite as fun as some of the other kids, but he fully embraced his desire to eat and eat. Trust me, he wasn’t shy about going for seconds. Next up is Mike, a kid who loves TV and even has a fake gun by his side. He has no real patience and when he sees a TV teleporter, he decides to go all in. I think we can safely say that his view is a little more down to Earth now and he actually got off quite leniently compared to some of the other kids. It’ll still be a tough life, but he can also experience some fun positives. A slice of pizza will be super filling now!
We can’t forget about Violet, who was the coolest in the film thanks to her father. He was a car salesperson who didn’t mess around and even told Willy that contracts are for suckers. While the rest of the cast signed their names into the contract that stipulated that they were willingly putting their lives on the line, the father objected. Unfortunately, Violet signed away anyway and basically dug her own grave, but at least her father knew what was up. “I’ll break you” was the best line in the film and I definitely think that the dad would have beaten Willy, had he not needed to go and save his daughter first. Easily the best character in the film. Another kid was Veruca, she always had to have whatever she wanted when she wanted it. This meant that she was perfect for Willy’s death traps that he scattered around the facility. They’re made to defeat individuals just like her. She actually lasted a while though.
As for good ole Charlie, he’s a nice kid. He also broke the rules, but managed to get lucky. That may have been a moment of weakness, but he’s certainly a far nicer and more honorable kid than the rest of the pack. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just had some bad luck. Charlie did everything that he could so he could make the financial situation better for his family. It had been rough for them and I believe the film even mentioned that most of his relatives hadn’t even gotten out of bed in years. It was a tight fit too since it was 3-4 of them squeezed in there. It was certainly emotional. Grandpa Joe was a fun supporting character. He was one of the only guys who dared to talk back to Willy and he made it clear that he wouldn’t be messed with. Grandpa Joe was old, but he had spunk. Charlie’s Mom was also a good influence on him as she encouraged Charlie to follow his dreams. She made the most of a pretty rotten situation.
Finally, there’s also Willy Wonka. He’s certainly a more sinister character than you would first think on the surface. He made a lot of money out of this situation and everything went according to his plans. Now, you can argue that his house isn’t an elaborate death trap and that everyone actually lives, but it seems a little sketchy to me. In this fantastical land, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they all died. It plays out like a family friendly horror film as everyone is bumped off one by one. Again, it’s the Hunger Games and since it is food related, the example is even more fitting. Wonka’s tricks were probably too good though since none of the kids were able to resist the temptations. Ah well, he’ll just have to nerf the place next time, but Charlie holds the keys now. Gene Wilder does a perfect job of showing how quirky Wonka is and making his character have a lot of personality right off the bat. Not just anyone could have pulled that off.
The only disturbing scene in the film is the really trippy car ride. It’s the only thing that could have maybe bumped this up to a PG…or beyond! The scenes definitely seemed rather intense, but it could just be an illusion effect from how fast the images were rolling. Either way, it certainly did a good job of being scary and out of nowhere. No wonder the cast wanted off of that ride. It didn’t help that it kept spitting frosting at them either. Not even Chocolate either, just good ole Vanilla.
Overall, This film was a lot of fun. It’s certainly very crazy and the world is quite spectacular, but it does it in such a serious way that it really works. It’s one of those rare comedy films where the writing is really on point and the pacing is great. It’s a laugh a minute and the cast is quite good. You’ll feel bad for the characters since a lot of them seem doomed in the end, but at least they got to eat some chocolate and have their 5 minutes of fame before going. I’d love to have some free chocolate myself. The movie even has a few songs and also gave the world some cool memes. Prepare yourself for Wonka’s big “You Lose” speech that got a lot of recognition online. This film fairly close to an 8 honestly, but a 7 just seems more appropriate. It’s in that gray area between numbers, but I don’t believe in giving half points so it had to be one of the other. If you want a fun film to check out for Christmas, this is certainly a really good option to roll with.