Saturday, September 3, 2016


Welcome to a new installment of FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT, where we give our recommendation on a family-friendly movie to enjoy.  This week we review the wonderfully whimsical, classic family film...WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Enjoy!

This past week, we lost one of the defining actors of our time when Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83. While Wilder was known for a myriad of roles from Blazing Saddles to See No Evil, Hear No Evil, the film he will be undeniably remembered for the most is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. A film that failed to strike a chord with audiences upon its initial release, Wonka subsequently became a TV staple in the 80's, and is now seen as a classic for film fans of all ages, which is why I chose this to be the film I review for this segment, both to honor the memory of Mr. Wilder and because it truly is a film all families should see together.

A small plot summary for the uninitiated. The film centers around a child, Charlie Bucket, who gets a chance at greatness when the mysterious candy maker, Willy Wonka, offers five lucky people who find a Golden Ticket in the wrapper of a Wonka candy bar the chance to see the inside of his mysterious factory, win a lifetime supply of chocolate, and win a mysterious prize. In many ways, Wonka is a movie that feels very much like it's title character in that it's very much off-tilt in a very peculiar way. Even before we make it to the factory, everything about the film has a very funny bent to it, especially once the Golden Tickets are introduced into the story. Probably some of my favorite jokes in the entire movie come from news reports and tiny vignettes about the length some people are going to find the tickets. Each of them are farcical and hilarious in their own special ways, including the one where men have kidnapped a woman's husband leaving a ransom note demanding the woman's crates of Wonka bars.

The real joy of the movie begins once Wonka himself is introduced. His intro scene is one of the most memorable character introductions in cinema, and I don't dare ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it. Wilder just has this charisma to him that you can never quite place, especially since his characterization always feels like a character who's hiding something. It's not quite duplicity or deception, it's almost more the childlike sense of "I know something you don't knooow~" that's infused in every line he gives. Wonka also has the best song in the entire film. It's worth noting that Willy Wonka is a musical, but not a very blatant one. Most of the songs seem mostly organic, especially since most of them are delivered by the Oompa Loompas, Wonka's orange faced workers. That, and Wonka's song, the now legendary "Pure Imagination," have a very surreal quality that matches the rest of the film.

The other songs are mostly harmless, and even occasionally quite nice. The only one I ever felt took away from the movie was Charlie's mother singing what I always found to be a trite ballad about telling her son not to give up. That was always the one part that I didn't care for, and especially for families with small children, you might wanna consider having the fast forward on hand for that section, especially since it doesn't further the story at all. The only other criticism I'd have for the film is that the beginning drags somewhat. While I enjoy a lot of the funny stories about the contest and seeing the silliness of this society, it can't help but feel like we're spinning our wheels for a but waiting to finally introduce Wonka and enter the factory, at which point, the movie really shines. Children will love the ideas of a factory seemingly made of candy, Wonka's whimsical demeanor, the childlike manner that many of the mean kids meet their unfortunate punishment, and the wonder and imagination that's all over the factory. From the Fizzy Lifting Drink to the Chocolate River to the mysterious tunnel of horrors, children will be enthralled till the very end. Adults will find a lot of very interesting commentary about the nature of childhood and how people raise their kids and what we expect of them. They will also find a delightful sense of adventure and confidence in the film. It never treats its audience, be it child or adult, like they're idiots, it gives them a lot of credit to be able to take from the film what they will and to be smart enough to see what's going on under the surface, both of the factory and of Wonka himself. It's a veneer sly cynicism that hides what truly is a very hopeful, optimistic, and very whimsical film. It's no surprise why this is known as Wilder's most iconic role and film. It's a classic that will stand the test of time, reminding generations that if they want to view paradise, they need simply look around and view it.

Tony's Score: 9.5/10

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment