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UNASSAILABLE CLASSIC...yet it's a pretty rotten movie

  • Jul 15, 2005
First of all, I will not try to compare the Gene Wilder version with the book. Never read the book, so have no preconceived notitions. I was eight when the movie first came out, and actually went to see it. Don't remember too much about the experience, except the film seemed ENDLESS and boring.

About eight years ago, we rented it for our then 9 year old son. Didn't make it to the end...boring.

Saw it again last night on DVD. Lovely transfer, decent sound, ridiculous movie.

The best part of the film is the terrific performance by Gene Wilder. His performance was, frankly, ahead of its time. He's a loon. At one moment sweet and open, the next frightening with his wide-eyed gaze, the next barely engaged in his surroundings. He's snide and whispers some really droll insults under his breath. Just the kind of thing "heroes" in kids movies didn't do back in 1971. His performance makes the film bearable.

Everything else is dreadful. The sets are cheesy beyond belief. The boat ride through the terrifying tunnel is total out of place (a centipede crawling over a person's slightly open mouth!! What the..??!!??). It feels like Luis Bunuel. The songs are mostly totally forgettable, and even the ones we know (THE CANDYMAN CAN) are horrifically staged.

The circumstances under which Charlie lives are not amusing or quirky. My first thought upon seeing it just recently was "He needs to be put into a foster family...NOW.) He appears to be the only breadwinner, while his grandparents sit around in bed all day. There's probably a good reason for it, but it's not explained. I guess they're just "quirky." Charlie uses his meager earnings to buy tobacco for Grandpa Joe. Even in 1971, tobacco shouldn't have been so glorified.

The famous OOPAH-LOOMPAS (who DO have a memorable little tune to provide us) are just creepy, in all the worst ways. Their dancing is terrible and out of synch.

The adult actors in the film all overact tremendously. The young kids who play Charlie's fellow contest winners work really hard at being obnoxious...and they are!! But there's no nuance to the roles...they just all kinda scream and throw fits and carry on. Except Augustus, who is so busy stuffing his face you can't even understand his dialogue. And Veruca Salt isn't just a greedy brat, she's a psychopath of the first order!

I realize I'm sounding like a grinch. The movie is beloved the world over. Kids movies aren't supposed to be "realistic." But I believe even a totally unrealistic scenario has to have its own reality that we can tune in to. It's own set of rules. This film is made so clumsily and unattractively that it's pretty hard to find a way into the world so that we can believe the outrageous characters. Mostly, I just hate them.

I know I'll take a lot "not helpful" hits for this, but I feel I must be honest. And I truly believe if someone actually HASN'T seen this film before they should be spared.

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More Willy Wonka and the Chocolate ... reviews
review by . July 26, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
Gene Wilder is one of my favorite comedians. It seems to take so little effort to make us all laugh at his antics. He plays an excellent Wonka that has a walking cain even more deadlier than the Riddler's. At my age (a near firm 19) I get eye brows when I say I, yes, *Love* Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I have worn out several copies, and borrowed and rented it yes...I have a problem. But here is where the good news comes in. DVD. It's here! Join the wanka-visioned, wanka-tania, …
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About this movie


A wry and amusing musical about a world famous candymaker who hides five golden tickets in candy bars for five lucky children. Young, good-natured Charlie (Peter Ostrum) wins one of the tickets hidden amongst thousands of Wonka chocolate bars. What have Charlie and the other four kids won? A tour through Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, led by the loveable, eccentric, but often mean-spirited Wonka (Gene Wilder) himself. The factory itself is like a fantasy world: crazy color schemes, wild inventions, secret rooms, busy oompa-loompas, and lots and lots of delectable sweets. But Wonka has a hidden agenda, and during the tour he tests each child's character and honesty. Based on Roald Dahl's children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
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Director: Mel Stuart
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Music, Musical, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 1971, June 30, 1971
MPAA Rating: G
Screen Writer: Roald Dahl
DVD Release Date: June 21, 2005
Runtime: 1hr 38min
Studio: Warner Home Video
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