It’s become a recent trend for online critics to go back to beloved films like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and label them as overrated or lackluster. Perhaps in some feeble attempt at sounding more intelligent than the rest of us blokes. I am not, for the most part, that critic.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory remains, after almost fifty years, a funny and entertaining film. One that I can continue to re-watch with the same level of enjoyment every time.
The film centers on a young boy named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), whose impoverished English family lives near a world famous chocolate factory. This factory, owned by the reclusive Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), sends out five golden tickets hidden inside its chocolate bars. These golden tickets give five lucky people the chance to see the inside of the factory. Charlie’s life changes forever when he obtains one of these coveted tickets, winning him and his grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) a tour of one of the strangest places in the world.
All the characters in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory are performed very well. I particularly liked how the main protagonist of Charlie was written and played like a normal boy. However, Gene Wilder really steals the show, as his terrific portrayal of Willy Wonka is by far the best aspect of the film.
Over time, I’ve come to highly respect the acting talent of Gene Wilder (from such films as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein), as I feel he brings a lot to every character he plays. He’s overall a very mysterious character, as you really never understand his motives. Even in his introduction to the film, Wonka deceives the audience into thinking he is handicapped. Wonka is rude, but also polite. He likes to give the impression that he’s careless about the well-being of others, but ends up showing a much softer side to his personality.
The interior of the chocolate factory is truly a place of pure imagination. Everything about this place is fascinating, and in need of more exploration. From the wacky, nonsensical inventions, to the strange chocolate river flowing through the middle of the factory, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a visual wonder.
Since the first time I saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as a teen, it has increasingly grown on me with each viewing. It’s pure family-fun entertainment that I’m sure just about anyone could enjoy. Gene Wilder’s sarcastic (yet lovable) performance as Willy Wonka remains one of my favorite film characters to date. Despite a few dated aspects (most notably, the music), this is a film I’m sure I will continue to revisit time and time again.
The Verdict: A-