I was minding my own business yesterday, just sitting on the couch and watching TV. As I was flipping through the channels I saw that Willy Wonka was on and decided to watch for a minute. Forty-five minutes later, I realized that I was totally engulfed in the movie (one I’ve seen a hundred times) and couldn’t bring myself to change the channel. That’s the beauty of this flick–it never gets old.
I was going to compare Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to the semi-recent remake entitled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp. But I decided against it because there’s simply too much to talk about in the initial film for me to even touch on the second. Plus the second one isn’t even worth writing about.
The story begins with poor Charlie Bucket. Amazing name, not-so-amazing life. He lives in a ramshackle house with his mother (a laundress) and his four grandparents that just won’t kick the bucket (so to say). I’m not sure where this family lives but it’s definitely not in the United States. Charlie’s teacher has a British accent and I think the candy shop salesman also has some kind of weird accent.
It is announced world-wide that Willy Wonka, owner and creator of Wonka Chocolate, is having a contest for free entry and a tour of his magical factory. The winners must find a golden ticket lining the wrapper of their Wonka Bar in order to win.
The world goes absolutely insane looking for these golden tickets, acting as if Wonka’s Factory is better than heaven or Disney World (it’s not). The first person who finds a ticket is a gluttonous German boy named Augustus Gloop (another amazing name). It’s easy to understand how he found the ticket–he’s constantly pictured shoving food into his pie hole.
The audience is next introduced to Veruca Salt. Leave it to Roald Dahl to come up with so many prime names. Veruca is a spoiled British girl who’s father has transformed his nut-shelling company into a chocolate-unwrapping production in order to find her the next ticket. Despite all of the whining that comes from Veruca, their plan works and she gets a ticket.
After that, an obnoxious gum-chewing American girl named Violet Beauregarde finds the third golden ticket followed by another American boy named Mike TeeVee who simply watches TV all day. I like the light in which Americans are viewed. What are you trying to say Mr. Dahl?
Before the last ticket is found, Charlie’s teacher makes fun of him for being so poor that he could only afford two Wonka Bars. Charlie’s mom sings him a song in hopes that he would cheer up (It’s called “Cheer Up Charlie” so as you can see, she’s not only an amazing laundress, but a talented singer-songwriter. Mrs. Bucket is a jack of all trades, really.) and it’s by far the most boring part of the movie.
There are rumors that the last golden ticket was found in Paraguay by a grown man which is just weird. Like, shouldn’t you be working? So Charlie finds a coin in a storm grate (he’s such a little homeless weirdo) and decides to buy one last chocolate bar after reading that the Paraguayan made a fake ticket. Charlie finds the last one and runs home to his family.
After each child finds a ticket, they are confronted by Arthur Slugworth (these names are killing me) who introduces himself as a rival candy maker looking for the secret to Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper. If Charlie gives him one, Slugworth will in turn give Charlie ten thousand dollars. And we all know that Charlie could use ten dollars, never mind ten grand.
Charlie’s Grandpa Joe dances around the room when he hears of the good news that Charlie found the last ticket. He’s been bedridden for years, yet it only takes minutes for him to easily recover and start dancing. Like, wtf Grandpa. You could’ve easily had a job all these years. I like to think that Grandpa Joe willed himself to have a spring in his step because if he didn’t Charlie wouldn’t be able to attend the tour. Charlie’s mom would be too busy washing everyone’s laundry except her own family’s.
Meanwhile the movie has already been on for an hour and we still haven’t met Willy Wonka. How was I ever patient enough to sit through this film as a child?
At the gates of his factory, Wonka introduces himself by hobbling out and then faking a fall and turning it into a flip. The crowd cheers as if to say, “It would’ve been really disappointing if you were crippled because crippled people aren’t any fun.” So whew!
Inside, all of these tricks are played on the children and their parents–the coat racks grab their belongings, rooms shrink, everyone gets confused–it’s fun! Finally the chocolate room is in front of them but they have to wait for Wonka to sing his song first. It’s a great scene. Especially at the end of the song when Gene Wilder (Wonka) takes a bite of the buttercup cup that he drinks out of. This kind of establishes that Wonka is a psycho.
Augustus finds the chocolate river and starts to drink out of it like the little pig that he is. He eventually falls in (help. police. murder.) and gets sucked up into this tube. We are then introduced to the Oompa Loompas who basically run the factory. They sing a song about how gross August is and how you shouldn’t ever be like him. They are commanded to go rescue Augustus before he gets turned into fudge.
After that the group rides in a boat on the chocolate river. It’s basically the ride from hell because Wonka becomes oddly possessed as he sings a song while disturbing scenes flash on the walls of the tunnel they ride through.
As the families wander through various machinery, Violet takes interest in a piece of gum that tastes like a three course dinner. The gum turns her skin blue and blows up her body into a balloon shape so that she resembles a blueberry that she tasted. The Oompa Loompas roll her out and sing a song about how dumb she is.
Soon after, Wonka brings the remaining families into a room of geese that lay golden eggs. I forget the purpose of them, but they’re rad and Veruca agrees. She begs her father for a golden goose to which Wonka replies that they’re not for sale. Veruca flips out and sings a song called “I Want It Now” as she destroys the room. She accidentally ends her song by standing on an egg scale that deems her as a “bad egg”. The Oompa Loompas go to work and sing a song about how annoying Veruca was.
Having only two survivors left, Charlie and his grandpa take a drink of this soda called Fizzy Lifting Drink that makes the float and almost kills them. That scene caused me a lot of anxiety as a child, but they survived by the skin of their teeth. I think this scene happens earlier in the movie, but whatever. They also ride in a sudsy car with Mike and his mother which proves to be messy and not that much fun.
Mike meets his fate when he shrinks himself to be the size of a shrunken candy bar that fits inside a television. Unable to bring him back to life-size, Mike’s mom puts him in her purse and is escorted out by the Oompa Loompas who sing a song about how Mike is the worst.
After that, the tour is over and Charlie and Grandpa Joe are expecting to win a life-time supply of chocolate, when Wonka tells them that they were disqualified after they smudged his ceiling in the Fizzy Lifting room. Wonka shouts at them when they don’t leave and says “I SAID GOOD DAY” which is an amazing scene. Grandpa Joe threatens to talk to Slugworth but Charlie is a honest boy and gives Wonka an Everlasting Gobstopper that he pocketed for that purpose.
When Wonka sees the Gobstopper, he turns to Charlie and smiles, knowingly that he was the child he needed. Wonka explains that Slugworth works for him and it was all a ploy to see which child would be an honest heir for his factory. Wonka, Grandpa Joe and Charlie all enter a glass elevator that shatters a glass ceiling and the fly among the clouds as Wonka explains that the real prize is his entire factory and Charlie will be able to reside there with his family. How embarrassing.