Reviews: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

Oh, the Candy Man can. You better fucking believe it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was, as I'm sure it was to a lot of people, one of those earliest books I can remember really taking a shine to. It was funny and also kinda scary and creepy, but with a good moral center. So when I found out there was a movie years later, I got totally pumped, as you do. And... I didn't really like it all that much. Don't know why. I was just a dumb kid, I guess. when I saw Tim Burton's take on it about a decade later, I totally dug it. Ah, the ignorance of youth. Michael Nesmith knew what the fuck he was talking about when he said "It's amazing how time / can so softly change your ways / And make you look at things / that can't be seen." That's goddamn right, Papa Nez.

Now, I wouldn't trade a hundred generic, overblown Burton quirkfests for one wild-eyed Gene Wilder, the one and only Willy Wonka to me. Mr. Wilder's Wonka is truly a mesmerizing, unpredictable performance. with his strange thought patterns, borderline sociopathy and general aura of mystique, he comes off as almost a bit alien in nature. And not a traumatic backstory in sight. You can't understate the efficacy of a good mystery, sometimes. In certain ways, he's an even more fascinating character than his book source counterpart. And that's pretty much as high praise as can be given to an adaptation.

I was more than a little surprised to find it was a product of the '70s. It's got such a tight grip of that timeless sense of wonder of true golden age Hollywood family classics. Though mostly light and fun in tone, there's a few off-colour jokes thrown in for the adults, and of course, that infamous Psychedelic Tunnel Freakout that catches EVERYONE who watches it off-guard the first time around. Oh, who am I kidding, it's a harrowing experience every goddamn time. And I fucking love it.

The kid actors do a great job of acting obnoxious while reminding us constantly that their personality flaws come from the sins of the fathers (and mothers). Charlie is also a hell of a lot more of an actual kid—flawed and sometimes selfish—than the selfless, wooden android kid in Burton's film.

With catchy, witty songs that stay with you and one of those truly classic, nostalgic main themes—sweet as fucking candy—this is a film to be savoured time and again. Pure joy, pure entertainment... pure imagination.