Friday, 11 December 2015

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Despite being credited as the screenwriter for the film, Roald Dahl was apparently not a fan of this adaptation of his novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  He felt it focused too much on Willy Wonka, rather than Charlie.  That might seem an odd complaint given that Wonka doesn't appear until over 40 of the movie's 95 minutes have elapsed, but for all he is unseen, Wonka is certainly not absent from that opening act.  Almost every line of dialogue, in fact, relates to the man, his mysterious factory, or to the competition he is holding that will allow five lucky winners to see inside.

One of those five winners is Charlie Bucket, who lives in poverty with his hard-working mother and four bed-ridden grandparents.  He'd pretty obviously be our plucky underdog hero even if the other four winners weren't all horrible people, but of course they are.

On the duly appointed day of the grand tour, Charlie and the other winners finally meet the "great man" himself, and from that point on it pretty much is the Willy Wonka show.  He leads them on a madcap adventure through the strange wonderland that is his factory, filled with odd gadgets, improbable inventions, and goofy puns.  His guests frankly don't know how to take him and it's quite possible the movie-going audience will find him as much irritating as charming.  Of course, I think that's entirely the point.

This is a fun if often very silly film.  The cast gamely give it their all, no matter how slapstick things get, which helps a lot.  It's obviously visually no match for the more recent Tim Burton adaptation, but I think is a more enjoyable film overall.

Not a bad option if you want a kids' flick that's got a little bite to it, but still ultimately ends up in sugary sweetness.

No comments:

Post a Comment