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YMMV / Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Especially in the United States, this film is more familiar to many people than the source book — to the point that there were complaints about the 2005 film making stuff up when what it was actually doing was restoring things that were in the book but left out or changed for the 1971 film. The 2013 British stage musical adaptation of the novel worked "Pure Imagination" into the otherwise all-new score upon realizing some Pandering to the Base was necessary, and the subsequent Broadway Retool in 2017 worked in even more movie songs.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Was Wonka's infamous rant (under Memetic Mutation) an Out-of-Character Moment, or a subconscious Berserk Button? Alternately was it merely a Batman Gambit to finalise Charlie as a responsible owner (and that, unlike the others, he could accept and learn from his flaws)? Wonka's fondness for Chewing the Scenery and faux concern and emotion doesn't help the least.
    • Some people think Grandpa Joe is a creep. He says that he'd help Charlie support the family if he could get out of bed, but the only time we actually see him trying is so he can go to the chocolate factory, where he sings I've Got a Golden Ticket about his grandson's find. Him taking the fizzy lifting drinks and willingness to sell out to Slugworth after Wonka's rant are also sometimes held against him (although the last one he was angry at Wonka for crushing Charlie, but understood why Charlie couldn't do it). Not to mention the repeatedly-mentioned fact that, until recently, this bedridden man sharing a space with three other elderly people was a habitual smoker, whose pipe a day was being footed by his grandson.
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    • Also, Grandpa Joe accuses Mr. Wonka of being an inhuman monster for crushing Charlie's dream. Justified with them not knowing that it was a test. (Gene Wilder overselling his false anger and coming off as a Jerkass when he berates Charlie with everyone's favorite meme doesn't help matters.)
    • Is Charlie really any better than the other kids?
      • Would any of the other kids had returned the gobstopper, instead of selling it for profit out of spite?
      • The interpretation is that Charlie can give into temptation, but he's not defined by it. He can recover and maintain his humanity. That's why he is better than the other children.
    • The mysterious Tinker in the beginning of the movie - who utters an ominous warning to Charlie that nobody comes in or out of the factory - is a down-and-out Slugworth.
    • Did Wonka know that each segment of his factory would eliminate a troublesome child and deliberately put them in danger? Each time a new vehicle appeared, it was smaller than the last. Renegade Cut goes so far as to suggest Wonka is actually a child murderer.
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    • Film Theory hypothesizes that the whole golden ticket contest was just Wonka's attempt to offload the horrifically unsafe factory before OSHA, established that same year, hit him with millions of dollars in fines. Robot Chicken took this theory and had fun with it.
    • One viewer makes a rather solid case for Violet being the best candidate to take over the factory, positing that her willfulness, competitiveness, obsession with candy, and neglect for social norms function as strengths rather than weaknesses. She basically is Willy Wonka.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The 30th Anniversary DVD originally did not include an option to watch the movie in widescreen. Fans petitioned and implored Warner Bros. to rectify this, and they released a widescreen version just in time for the holidays.
  • Award Snub: Not only did the film lose the Oscar for Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score, but it wasn't nominated for art direction or original song for "Pure Imagination."
  • Awesome Music: "Pure Imagination". It warrants its own article at The Other Wiki which lists many of the cover versions, variations, and repurposings it's had over the years; among other things, it's been:
    • Crossed over with The Muppets twice. It was the basis for a production number in the Ben Vereen episode of The Muppet Show's first season. The Muppets later turned up in the 2015 video for Josh Groban's cover version.
    • Given a second verse and chorus in The '90s. Leslie Bricusse wrote it for Michael Feinstein when he decided to record the song as the title track of a compilation of children's songs. Most subsequent covers just stick with the original set of lyrics, with the aforementioned Josh Groban cover one of the exceptions.
    • Repurposed for advertisements for the Encore movie networks and AT&T. Those used the original soundtrack recording — while Fiona Apple did a cover version of the song for an animated ad for Chipotle.
    • Smoking Popes did, of all things, an alternative rock cover, which managed to be just as dreamy as the original.
    • The basis for a cheeky opening number for Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards — she sang it to underscore a montage of Toilet Humor and Stuff Blowing Up from the past year's films.
    • Incorporated into the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics; Russell Brand sang the song's opening lines as the lead-in to a rendition of "I Am the Walrus"!
    • Used to bookend the main action of the dance troupe JABBAWOCKEEZ's Las Vegas production Prism.
    • Used with new lyrics in a Family Guy spoof episode in which Peter and company visit the Pawtucket Brewery and are serenaded with "Pure Inebriation".
    • The Climactic Music in the 2013 West End stage adaptation of the source novel, which otherwise has a completely new lineup of songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. This was the result of Executive Meddling (Warner Bros. is a co-producer of the show), and pretty much confirms that the song's the Bootstrapped Theme not only for this particular movie adaptation, but the story as a whole.
    • Even the otherwise laughably bad Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory couldn't take away from the lasting power of this song, as J.P. Karliak's Wonka still manages to give the song the beautiful pathos it deserves.
    • The other songs on the soundtrack are quite popular as well, with "The Candyman" probably coming in behind Pure Imagination for the most beloved of the lot. Sammy Davis Jr. famously fell in love with the number and turned it into his Signature Song.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The tunnel scene, which comes and then is never mentioned again, even though realistically such an event would likely cause the characters to demand to be let out of this factory. It's also a Disney Acid Sequence, total Nightmare Fuel, and, ironically, probably the movie's most famous scene.
    • The Wonkamobile scene doesn't advance the plot. The guests get messy, and then they get clean, and then they go to the next scene.
    • The many scenes that show how desperate the world is in finding the Golden Tickets, though slightly brief, seem to drag a little and might come off as this to some.
  • Broken Base: Fans of the book cannot decide which version is the superior adaption, this or the 2005 film. This production invokes more nostalgia, deviates from the book, and takes more risks with mixed results. Whereas the 2005 film follows much more closely to Roald Dahl's work, many perceive it as a soul-less parade of neverending, exceedingly weird imagery which ruins Wonka's mysterious character with a forced Daddy Issues-themed backstory.
  • Covered Up:
  • Cue Irony: Julie Dawn Cole, who played the rich Spoiled Brat Veruca Salt, actually comes from a very poor family, she and her sister being raised by a single mother.
  • Designated Hero: Grandpa Joe, as mentioned above, can be seen as kind of a dick.
  • Designated Villain: Augustus and Violet are not quite as unpleasant as they are in other versions. Augustus at least has decent table manners and is polite to everyone else on the tour while Violet cannot stand Veruca's obnoxiousness.
  • Ear Worm: "Oompa-Loompa-Doopa-de-do, I've got another puzzle for you..."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Mrs Bucket (in this version). She doesn't appear as much in the movie but is easily adored by fans who wished Charlie took her to the factory instead of the widely loathed, Grandpa Joe.
    • Veruca is probably the most remembered character aside from Mr. Wonka and the Oompa Loompas, thanks to her hamminess.
    • Mr Turkentine actually got an extra scene thanks to his popularity.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Charlie here, unlike in the book, is totally desperate for that ticket. He would still be miserable and unhappy unless he had his golden ticket. The real-life equivalent is to say, you'll always be unhappy unless you win the lottery. That's not a good moral for the children, or indeed, adults.
    Wonka: "Oh, And Charlie? Do not forget about the guy who suddenly got everything he wanted. He lived happily ever after."
  • Fanon: Julie Dawn Cole reveals during the DVD commentary that she's had multiple people ask her if Wonka dramatically addressing Charlie as "My boy!" before telling him he's won was supposed to be a Luke, I Am Your Father reveal.
  • First Installment Wins: As evidenced by the thirty-four year head start, the Nostalgia Filter, Vindicated by Cable, a soundtrack full of Ear Worms, a higher score on the Tomatometer (especially among general audiences), a career highlight performance from Gene Wilder (even the most ardent Johnny Depp fans will usually concede that he was miscast as Wonka), the 1971 film is more popular, though the 2005 film is in some ways arguably closer to the source material and has better special effects.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • After Wonka plays the musical lock, Mrs. Teevee says "Rachmaninoff" knowledgeably, which is met by a confused double-take by Mr. Salt. The joke is that the music is actually from the overture to Mozart's opera Le nozze di Figaro and Mrs. Teevee is a Know-Nothing Know-It-All, a rather obscure reference to non-musicians/opera fans.
    • The man from Paraguay who gets caught counterfeiting a Golden Ticket is represented by a picture of Martin Bormann, the former chairman of the Nazi Party, who at the time was widely believed to be living under an assumed name in South America.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In one scene where Charlie and Grandpa Joe open a chocolate bar in the hopes of finding a ticket only to turn up empty, Charlie laments that they probably "make the chocolate taste terrible". As fate would have it, the real Wonka bars being sold at the time of the movie's release were eventually recalled and discontinued due to them apparently tasting bad and melting on the store shelves.
    • Wonka gently telling Charlie that "I can't go on forever... and I don't really want to try" rings a little harsher in the wake of Gene Wilder's death. Even more so when it was revealed that he had been suffering with Alzheimer’s in his final years.
    • Also, the scene where Mike eats exploding candy and is blown back by the blast but is otherwise ok aside from implied minor teeth damage, and Wonka saying that "it's still too weak." It wouldn't be so funny anymore considering what happened with the Exploding Jawbreaker incident where a girl tried to eat a jawbreaker under heated pressure and it exploded, inflicting serious burns on her face. Mythbusters would later test this to prove just how lethal exploding candy can be.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Despite being known as "the amazing chocolatier", the most popular defictionalized Wonka-brand candy is fruit flavored, like Runts and Nerds (especially the banana Runts- fans apparently lobby Wonka all the time for a banana-only box). You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who's eaten a Wonka bar, and the other candy mentioned in the book, the Everlasting Gobstopper, seems to have seriously dipped in popularity since the 1990s.
      • There were a few candy bars, all from 1999-2010. They were: the original Wonka Bar, which had graham crackers; the Xploder Bar, with Pop Rocks; Wonka Donutz (exactly what it sounds like); and the Wonka Exceptionals line of upscale treats.
      • The latest ones seem truer to the books though. They are actually chocolate, for one thing.
    • Before Gene Wilder played a candy factory owner who seldom went out in public, he appeared in this Tootsie Roll commercial as a candy factory employee who feared going out in public.
    • Later in her acting career, Julie Dawn Cole appeared in the ensemble of the 1983 British stage musical Bashville (an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's The Admirable Bashville). The title character was played by Douglas Hodge...who, 30 years later, originated the role of Willy Wonka in the 2013 stage musical adaptation of this story, which includes several internal homages to, and one song from, this film.
    • The Crunchtastic term "scrumdidilyumptious" now sounds like something Ned Flanders might come up with!
      • There actually is a voice clip of Ned saying just that in the Simpsons Cartoon Studio PC game! Ned also says the word during a Treehouse of Horror episode, describing the doughnut that Homer sold his soul for.
    • After the boat ride, Mike asks "why don't they show stuff like that on TV?" — a line that sounds even truer now that some TV prints cut out the boat ride. Speaking of that scene, Wonka's deranged wail at the end of his song is a bit similar to R2-D2's panicked scream in Star Wars, as well as 4chan's "REEEEEEE" meme.
  • Hype Backlash: The film is hailed as a classic yet takes several creative liberties with the source material, so this was inevitable. Even when the movie was released it angered many fans with its changes to the story and tone, even Roald Dahl himself. This has gotten more prevalent in recent years with less and less people growing up with the movie and instead with other adaptations.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Unlike the original book, this adaptation doesn't show the bratty kids making it out of the factory. Wonka assures Charlie that they were all fine, but given Wonka has also been shown to be an Unreliable Expositor, some fans theorise that he's just sugarcoating it for Charlie's sake.
  • Informed Wrongness: Wonka is portrayed as cold and heartless for denying Charlie the factory and Grandpa Joe begins shouting at him. Except... Wonka has every right to deny Charlie his prize because Charlie did drink the soda. The worst thing is that trying the drinks was Grandpa Joe's idea!
  • Memetic Molester: The Candy Man...the Candy Man can? Seriously, kids, haven't you learned not to take candy from strangers? Why can't he just sell them and be done with it? No, he has to practically seduce these kids with sugar and dance around them very suspiciously. Michael Bolton parodied this during his appearance in Screen Junkies' Honest Trailer for this movie:
    Who seems like a nice guy, giving treats to you,
    Never asks for money, just a creepy hug or two?
    The creepy man! The creepy man can, 'cause he's got a white van with even more candy!
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misaimed Marketing: It is a testament to viewers' love for this kid-oriented movie extending well past their childhoods that WMS Gaming brought out a video slot machine themed to it in 2013. It's proven popular enough to have follow-ups.
  • Nausea Fuel: Mrs. Gloop is very disgusted when she sees the "chocolate waterfall":
    Mrs. Gloop: What a disgusting, dirty river!
    Mr. Salt: Industrial waste, that. You've ruined your watershed Wonka; it's polluted.
    Wonka: It's chocolate.
    Veruca Salt: That's chocolate?
    • The chocolate river was made from 150,000 gallons of water, real chocolate and cream. The cream began to spoil and, by the end of filming, smelled terrible. The exterior of the factory was Munich Gas Works.
    • Apart from this movie, German native Ursula Reit mostly worked on many German TV programs, with few other roles Americans would be familiar with, so she probably learned German first, and we don't know what she was really thinking in German.
  • Older Than They Think: Many people attribute Wonka's many literary quotes to this film.
  • One-Scene Wonder
    • Several examples during the worldwide scramble for the Golden Tickets, but the standout is probably the English comedy-actor Tim Brooke-Taylor as a... peeved... computer operator.
    • David Battley as the teacher Mr. Turkentine...who can't seem to do a lick of math (or chemistry). The director mentioned that Battley's part was originally going to be very small, but was expanded slightly because he did such a wonderful job.
    • The Half Room, Wonka's office, is a visual treat. Wonka's balancing on half a chair, retrieves papers from half a safe, even the wallpaper is in half strips. (It even comes into play during the emotional climax; when Wonka is angrily reading back the fine print of the contract Charlie signed, he interjects et cetera, et cetera! every couple of words because the copy of the document is also in half!)
  • Protagonist Title Fallacy: As noted on the main page, the title was changed for several reasons, but Charlie is still the protagonist. Willy Wonka isn't seen until the halfway point.
  • Sacred Cow: It was already Vindicated by History by the time the 2005 film came out but the huge backlash against the latter and later the death of Gene Wilder in 2016 firmly pushed the original into this territory. The Tom and Jerry crossover/remake Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory seems poised to become the duo's most-hated direct-to-video production thus far, even compared to Warner's previous attempt at shoehorning the duo into an animated remake of a classic fantasy musical (The Wizard of Oz, in that case).
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: All four Oompa Loompa songs qualify, being upfront but to the point about overeating, gum-chewing, raising children and addiction to television. The second one even pointed out the positives about gum, saying it aids in curbing the urge to smoke.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The reason for the Adaptation Species Change from nut-sorting squirrels to golden chocolate egg-laying geese was to avoid this trope, as the filmmakers knew there was no hope of pulling off the squirrels with turn-of-the-Seventies tech.
    • Even when the film was released, kids could tell the "candy" the children try to eat during "Pure Imagination" are inflated balloons.
    • When Mike eats the exploding candy and it...explodes, you can see the smoke is coming from a stand right in front of him.
    • Granted, it's not like there were many techniques to show Violet turning blue onscreen, but it's quite clear that her transformation into a blueberry starts with them shining a purple spotlight on Denise Nickerson's face. Also, if you watch it in fullscreen, you can see the hose that's inflating the rubber suit she's wearing.
    • One of the few updates in the 2005 version that fans of this movie have approved of was making the chocolate river actually look like chocolate, rather than the... questionable-looking brown liquid here, which even one of the parents says looks more like sewage (some have less-favorably compared it to diarrhea) than anything remotely edible. Even the grown-up actors who played the children joke about this on the DVD commentary.
    • When Wonka transports the chocolate bar the "television" he sends it to is clearly a hollowed-out white box with a black shelf inside it. Mike's line of "How can he take it? It's just a picture" doing nothing to hide the fact that it's clearly three-dimensional. In general for as good and beloved as the movie is, even diehard fans will admit that the special effects tend to look hokey at best.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: The Chocolate Room with Willy Wonka's "Pure Imagination" setting the tone.
  • Toy Ship: Charlie often gets paired with Violet, as she's arguably the most sympathetic of the other children in this version.
  • Tough Act to Follow: One of the biggest reasons adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after this one flop is because the lead is compared to Gene Wilder. Supposedly, Nicolas Cage was considered for a never-made adaptation in 1999, but lost interest. Not quite a bad thing, because many believe he'd have made the character even darker than Tim Burton's interpretation did.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Charlie and his mother being upset by Grandpa Joe's vow to quit tobacco. Not helped that the Oompa-Loompas actually say gum chewing was GOOD for stopping you from smoking (they also say it's okay when it's once in a while, but it's still more than what the other kids got). Even worse, Grandpa Joe's reasoning to stop smoking tobacco was because it was too expensive a habit for such a small family; the fact that he's already in poor enough health that he's bedridden doesn't even come up.
    • Mike playing with a realistic toy gun would certainly not fly with mass shootings all too real in today's world. He brings it with him to the factory and even pretends to shoot Willy Wonka with it, yelling "WHAM! You're dead!". If that happened these days, he'd be tried as a juvenile delinquent. It does have the bonus that Wonka's response (turning to his mother and saying in a sincere, loving voice "What an adorable little boy you have") comes off like another glorious instance of his Consummate Liar status.
  • Vindicated by Cable: A box-office disappointment when initially released, it found its audience through TV and home video, becoming the 1970s equivalent of The Wizard of Oz. (Curiously enough, Roger Ebert's original review outright praised it as being the best kids' film since Oz!)
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Despite some of the more dated special effects, the set design is still a treat for the eyes, especially the Chocolate Room and the Inventing Room, which Julie Dawn Cole described as being "the kind of place that only existed at Disneyland." It also led to one of the most memorable gags in which Wonka picks a flower, drinks out of it like a tea cup and then eats it (it was actually wax, which Gene Wilder spat out as soon as the director yelled "Cut!").
  • What Do You Mean, "It's for Kids"?: Augustus Gloop's fate, the boat ride...
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The reason why it has earned a reputation as a Stoner Flick.
  • The Woobie:
    • A minor example in Mr. Salt. Did he and his wife spoil Veruca? You bet. Are they responsible for her monstrous personality? No doubt. Even knowing this, does the look on his face when she calls him a "rotten mean father" (as though he were about to burst into tears) make you feel legitimately bad for the guy? Absolutely. What's even worse is that he knows all too well that spoiling Veruca is a bad idea, but he can't do anything about it because he can't get through to his daughter and his wife insists on giving Veruca whatever she wants.
    • Charlie himself is another example. Poor, comes from a broken family, can barely afford the chocolate that gets him in the factory, well-meaning but (seemingly) admonished by Wonka for the Fizzy Lifting Drinks incident. He does win out in the end, though.
    • Violet after she's been turned into a blueberry. She can barely move and, after having a Motor Mouth for much of the film, can't muster the words to speak. In addition, she's the only kid who's around for her Oompa-Loompa song, looking utterly humiliated. It doesn't help that she's been rolled around for a minute by the Oompa-Loompas like a beach ball, when Wonka just said she might explode. Given that she comes across as the most pleasant of the naughty kids, you hope she'll leave the factory in one piece.
    • Augustus in the 1971 version seems like a very nice, polite, quiet, mild-mannered boy and his comeuppance comes off as a bit much.
  • Woolseyism: In the German dub, the ticket-finding computer's snarky reply "What would a computer do with a lifetime supply of chocolate?" becomes "Thank you, very kind of you, but I prefer sausage to chocolate." Likewise, the scientist's frustrated response is "First, I'm going to teach this sassy computer some manners!"


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