Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Movie Review

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Review

Based on the famous Roald Dahl book and released in 1971, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a fantasy musical film directed by Mel Stuart and starring Gene Wilder in one of his most iconic roles. It is one of the best children’s films of the period.

It follows Charlie as he receives the Golden Ticket and goes to the chocolate factory along with four other children where Willy Wonka guides them through the place. It is a wonderful story, so engaging and so incredibly charming. What I found the best about it is not only how entertaining it is, but also how deftly edited and constructed the story arcs are. You have the first act which is absolutely terrific as it introduces you to this world and its characters wonderfully and sets up the factory perfectly. The second act is the most entertaining and most wildly imaginative, bolstered by its adventurous spirit whereas the finale is immensely satisfying, warm and just beautiful in every way.

I think the humor is the movie’s biggest asset. There are many hilarious lines here which just goes to show how stellar the script is and how sophisticated is the dialogue. I laughed many times from start to finish and this is definitely one of the funniest children’s as well as fantasy films ever. There is no doubt about that. Gene Wilder and his Willy Wonka contribute the most to that lovable humor, but just the lines, dialogue and the way they are executed are perfect and these are the jokes both kids and adults can enjoy.

The characters are strong. Of course the title character is the standout. He is so funny, so wonderfully eccentric and beautifully depicted. Everything he does is perfect for the movie, both the little moments and his behavior, style and personality. Charlie is a typical good kid, but he isn’t obnoxious and is quite tolerable and even likable. Grandpa Joe is so sympathetic and the rest of the kids and parents are excellent sidekicks, very comedic.  Especially Veruca. She is hilarious. Overall, the character development is quite good, especially for this kind of film.

The acting is splendid. Everyone did a marvelous job from children to adults. But naturally Gene Wilder is the highlight. He’s amazing in this role that could have easily gone to too much camp or weird territory. But he pulled it off and created a great character who is easily the best aspect in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The directing is great, the pacing is phenomenal as aforementioned above and the performances are good. But the imagination is evident as is the movie’s authentic look. It has excellent make-up and terrific imagery. It created this atmosphere and world in a great manner. I love how it is filled with detail, colorful treats and some crazy mechanics in the factory. It is so charming and imaginative that adults can enjoy it as much as the children. But what is one of the best things about this film that completely took me off guard is how the tone can get way mature at times. Some scenes are incredibly dark for this genre and that is what sets it apart from the rest of the children’s films as it is executed smartly and never going too far. And I like how it also retains its warm tone both in the beginning and the finale.

When talking about the flaws, there aren’t many. But for instance, I wasn’t too fond of the soundtrack. Yes, Cheer Up Charlie is heartwarming and the Oompa Loompa song is quite catchy, but the rest are very forgettable and not helping the movie in any way whatsoever. I also think that they never went down the musical route too much, but it has its fair share of songs nevertheless which is a strange choice from the filmmakers who never seem certain of what approach they want. Also, sometimes it can get repetitive and very uneven in the middle of the film during the factory attractions and the factory somewhat disappointed me in the end as I wanted even more from it. Also, I think that Charlie and Grandpa Joe should have gotten bigger roles and it is weird that they are the center of the movie early on, but then they just kind of disappear until returning in the end. But those are just small problems and I think that the movie is overall stupendous as I expected bigger flaws from it. I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has such an imaginative, entertaining and incredibly charming story, an iconic Gene Wilder performance, superb characters and incredible humor that is its biggest asset. Yes, Charlie and Grandpa Joe should have had bigger roles and the soundtrack is so-so, but this is nonetheless one of the best children’s films of all time in my opinion as it is always intriguing, funny, heartwarming and so imaginative with great imagery and world building.

My Rating – 4,5

Posted in 1970s, 1971, Family, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Musical and tagged , , , , .

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