Friday, June 21, 2013

# 74. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Poster

Code-name: Chocoholics
(except for Violet Beauregarde, who's a gum enthusiast)

Director: Mel Stuart (RIP 2012)
Type: Musical, Family

Willy Wonka- Gene Wilder (RIP 8/29/2016)
[the rest of the actors' names escape me, but I'll include them for sake of completeness]
Charlie Bucket- Peter Ostrum
Grandpa Joe- Jack Albertson (RIP 1981)
Mrs. Bucket- Diana Sowle
Bill, The Candy-Man- Aubrey Woods (RIP 5/7/2013)
Augustus Gloop- Michael Bollner
Mrs. Gloop- Ursula Reit (RIP 1998)
Veruca Salt- Julia Dawn Cole
Mr. Salt- Roy Kinnear (RIP 1988)
Violet Beauregarde- Denise Nickerson
Mr. Beauregarde- Leonard Stone (RIP 2011)
Mike Teevee- Paris Themmen
Mrs. Teevee- Nora Demney (RIP 2005)
Charlie's teacher, Mr.Tuckentine- David Battley (RIP 2003)
Slugworth- Gunter Meisner (RIP 1994)

OSCAR nomination- Best Original  Score
Golden Globe nomination- Best Actor (Comedy/Musical)- Gene Wilder


This is one of those movies that begs me to say "if you don't like it, there's something wrong with you" :-P
but oddly enough, it wasn't a hit until VHS was invented in the 80's...
and not even the guy who wrote the book liked it... in fact, Roald Dahl hated it...

I don't know... IMDB suggests his opposition to David Seltzer's massive overhaul of the screenplay had something to do with it...

Now, would he have liked the Tim Burton remake because it was closer to the book?
Possibly... we'll never know cuz Dahl died in 1990.

This is also one of those old movies I like to reflect on from time to time, especially when I hear about the passing of another cast member.
Nearly all of the adults in the movie have died in the past couple decades, and I know that whenever Gene Wilder leaves us, it's going to be especially saddening. 

Again, I can't precisely place the first time I saw this, but it was a long time ago.
I haven't even read the book yet :-P and the few books I'd read of his, I liked a lot...
Twitches and the BFG (big friendly giant)...
never read Matilda or Fantastic Mr. Fox, but loved the movies.
I distinctly remember in my 4th grade class that half the room read one book and the other half read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"...

Don't know how I missed out on that, but yeah, it sucks.

spoilers ahead, but seriously, EVERYONE should have seen this movie by now

Great movie all around.
It's comprised of two specific halves.

The first is where Wonka makes the announcement that he's released 5 golden tickets that'll grant children entrance into his factory, which had been closed for a long time.
According to Grandpa Joe, former employee Slugworth left the factory, threatening to spill Wonka's secrets and as a result, he closed his doors to the public.

One by one, four children find golden tickets. We find out their unique character flaws with their introductions and each time, a man whispers something into their ear.
We see the movie from the POV of Charlie, whose family (his mum and all four grandparents) is rather poor. While he is a pessimist about whether or not he'll get a golden ticket, we recognize that he is being realistic about his chances.
Unlike everyone else in the world who'd gone crazy for chocolate... so crazy that shopkeepers are afraid to open their doors when they have no more Wonka bars to give.

Things look hopeless when a 5th ticket was reported found, but Charlie overhears after running his paper route that the 5th ticket was a fake and pays the Candy-Man a visit.
We only see him a couple times, but he's such a nice, pleasant character, especially to Charlie during this scene where he comes in... kinda surprising there was no hoopla when he passed away only a month ago because everyone else at least got a mention.

Charlie gets his golden ticket and runs into Mr. Slugworth on the way home. He tells him that if he steals an everlasting gobstopper for him, he'll compensate his family.
This news, he only shares with Grandpa Joe... shortly after his great musical number where he bursts out of bed and dances around the room.
One of my favorite numbers in the movie, always has been :-P

For the most part, I like musicals and don't mind the general clich├ęs that come with them. The only song I didn't care for was Mrs. Bucket singing "Cheer up Charlie"...
a meaningful number, yes, but it always bored me... kinda depressing too, but it's supposed to be a kinda depressing moment in the movie anyway.

Part 2:
we're at the factory

Of course, this was my introduction to Gene Wilder. I'd only seen him "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" so far, but this will always be THE defining role for him in my eyes.
I love the various eccentricities of Willy Wonka, all starting for his first scene.

Bit of trivia: Gene Wilder accepted the role ONLY if he was allowed to do a somersault at his grand entrance to set the tone for his character. And he did.

Just WOW... absolutely brilliant idea... it's rare when you can say one of your favorite movie moments is one where actions speak for themselves 

All of Wonka's ideas are brilliant as are the different rooms he has in his factory. You never really know what to expect.
The Chocolate Room sequence is nothing short of magical with all of the edible bits and pieces of it.

The little German boy Augustus Gloop ends up falling into the chocolate river when he gets carried away eating it...
meanwhile, while his mother is freaking out, Wonka is freaking that his presence is spoiling the chocolate... he gets stuck in a pipe... Wonka's practically eating popcorn watching "the suspense is terrible!... I hope it'll last"

One of many lines that are actual quotes from famous literary works (that was from "The Importance of Being Earnest" from Oscar Wilde). I remember being at trivia and didn't find out until the answer portion that "candy is dandy but liquor is quicker" was from Ogden Nash...

dude, how was I supposed to know that?!

Anyway... after Augustus gets "shot" to the fudge room, we have our first Oompa Loompa song

Next comes the notorious boat-ride scene.
Nostalgia Critic named it one of his top 11 WTF Nostalgia moments, pointing out that when we're kids, we don't know what to really think of the scene, but it is SO weird and out there... and chances are that it's a "big-lipped alligator moment" (see "All Dogs Go to Heaven" for that explanation) because it's never mentioned again after the end of the scene.

I don't remember my own reaction, but I knew the first couple times that I was never looking forward to it.
It's hard to say what's more unnerving, all of the freaky images or the fact Wonka seems to have lost his mind, especially at the top of the quote: "yes, the danger must be growing because the rowers keep on rowing and there's certainly no sign that they are slowing"... and screams his head off in a very high-pitch.
come to think of it, I had seen that degree of madness from him during "Young Frankenstein" when he finally calls himself "Franken-Sty-n" instead of "Fron-ken-steen"

The invention room is up next... where everyone gets their own everlasting gobstopper... and gum enthusiast and world record holder Violet can't resist the "three-course-dinner" gum...
everyone knows the extent of that scene...
"always goes wrong when it comes to the desserts"
and "Oompa Loompa, do-pa-di-di, if you were wise, you'd listen to me"

Charlie's own temptation comes into play when it comes to the fizzy lifting drinks. But to his credit, it was Grandpa Joe's idea.
Eventually, burping helps them get down ("Family Guy" spoofed this where Peter and Brian fart to get back to earth... after which Wonka does find them and throw them out...)

Everyone else is in the room with the geese who lay the golden chocolate eggs.
And after saying at least 2-3 times she wants something, Veruca demands a golden goose.
She's actually the only kid who got their own song in the factory before their demises.

The result is the following:
"She was a bad egg"- falling through the garbage shoot after the egg-dicator gives her a negative grade
"He finally got what he wants... Veruca went first"
"Oompa Loompa, do-pa-di-di, if you were wise, you'd listen to me"

We get into the final room, where Wonk-a-vision is introduced.
Of course, the TV-obsessed Mike can't resist and gets himself shrunk.

[everyone say it with me now!]
"Oompa Loompa, do-pa-di-di, if you were wise, you'd listen to me"

...and we're at the end of the tour... Charlie and Grandpa Joe are the only ones left and Wonka disappears into his office...

As it turns out, he really does have eyes everywhere because he found out about their escapade with the fizzy-lifting drinks and throws them out.
Despite all the crap that has happened throughout this tour, this is the only moment where he raises his voice... again, it's to be expected... but his patience is pretty astounding outside of that.

Charlie making the final gesture of giving back his Gobstopper was all he needed to change his mind.
Willy Wonka is beyond ecstatic.
As it turns out, the guy we believed to be Slugworth was an employee of his that was part of a great test, which Charlie passed.

Wonka, Charlie and Grandpa Joe take a ride in the Wonkavator, and Wonka goes on to say he's giving Charlie the factory- considering his retirement, he decided he had to pass it onto a kid who'd run things the way he did so its legacy will endure.

Probably one of the happiest happy endings I can think of... always fills me up with so much joy.
Great to the last line:

"Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted. He lived happily ever after." 

[About that Remake?]

Despite it being another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration, I was beyond skeptical when I heard about him remaking the movie... except it's "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" and supposedly a closer adaptation to the book.
After seeing it, I say it isn't bad... but nowhere NEAR as good the original... you can't put a price tag on this movie

Of course, everything is a little bit darker and more dreary in this newer version because it IS Tim Burton. 
The story is the same with a few exceptions here and there...
like how Grandpa Joe used to work there...
Charlie wins in the end, but Wonka is hesitant to take him because he doesn't want to leave his family behind.
and we see more of Wonka's background via flashbacks than we see of Charlie's progression through the movie.

For the most part, the kids are more extreme....
Augustus is about the same, although his look and demeanor reminds me of "Nightmare Before Christmas"
Violet is an athlete that's all about being #1 (a mini-version of her mom who comes there instead of her dad)
Veruca is... how can I put it... a little more passive... as if one sentence in unenthusiastic voice is enough to get a response... instead of the golden goose, she wants a squirrel, who determine whether nuts are good or bad.
Mike is INTENSE... the product of playing violent video games rather than being obsessed with westerns on TV... to the point of being scary (his dad comes instead of his mom here)
...and we actually get to find out what happens to them after they fail to impress, a nice extra touch

as much as I love Johnny Depp, this is not one of my favorite roles of his...
a little too weird, charactery... almost like a caricature or a puppet... 

The Oompa Loompa songs aren't as memorable either... all of them are completely different and I guess I'm a little turned off by the fact they're played by one guy who'd been duplicated hundreds of times... not as much charm in that. 

for more on this, check into Nostalgia Critic's take on the movies

One thing I liked about it a lot was Freddie Highmore as Charlie... probably my first encounter with him and I'd since seen him in almost everything else... he's especially been captivating in the A&E Series "Bates Motel"

[Final Note]

2016 has been a detrimental year for Hollywood. We've lost so many good people including some who were part of my childhood or impacted my entire life (well, at least the last 9-10 years of my entire life in Prince's case).
Gene Wilder finally passed away. I had a feeling it would be soon and it would be sad and sure enough, his time came 3 years after I posted this originally. He had Alzheimer's disease. So sad when someone who made so many people happy loses themselves before they pass. It was also interesting to hear how he was close with Gilda Radner and he promoted cancer awareness after ovarian cancer took her life.

When Halloween comes around, I'll probably do a post about "Young Frankenstein" and spend more time honoring this man's memory.
He's been around for so long and has so much nostalgia attached to him, I realize that I didn't really know him outside of the roles that made me laugh. He will be sorely missed.

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