Written by Caroline Roosevelt of The Daily Life of Jackson Mollusk
In light of Gene Wilder’s passing, I’ve decided to pay tribute to him in the form of a caustic review of the Roald Dahl’s seminal classic adapted for screen; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Admittedly far superior to its 2005 counterpart in which Johnny Depp plays a puppet controlled by Tim Burton, the 1971 version certainly doesn’t escape unscathed. Here are 4 reasons Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is trash.
1. What’s With The Candy Man (Who, Evidently, Can)?
Let’s jump right into the pedophilic undertones. We pan to an elementary school in an industrial wasteland of a town. The doors fling open and a mass of screaming children descend down the stairs like bats out of hell. They arrive, flailing at the doorstep of a candy shop owned by a close relative of John Waters.
The mustachioed, greasy haired middle aged man sings to them, as he passes out a variety of candies, about “The Candyman”. Twirling around behind his counter, occasionally leaning over to sing-whisper to the children as he tosses candy to his admiring hoard, we clearly have entered a parallel universe in which pedophilia is cute. What is this candy? How is it made? Is it laced with Benadryl? All questions he answers in the line, “He mixes it with love and makes the world taste good!” [ed. note: you ever realize “love” is code for sex in that era? What exactly is getting mixed in with these candies?]
Sure. That’s a good enough answer to settle anyone. So let’s move on.
2. Charlie’s Home: A Few Quick Questions
Next, we are introduced to bright eyed Charlie Bucket. I guess the name Stephen Hobo Gloves was taken, so we settled on this bastardized nod to Oliver Twist. Charlie lives at the end of a street in what appears to be an enclosed gutter situation with his parents, and his two sets of Grandparents.
We have scenes like this to thank for why half of the population doesn’t think food stamps are fair. We should all wait until we live in a house like Charlie Buckets’ before being deserving of aid. It has ALL the trappings of industrial-era destitution; there’s your boiling vat in the corner for cleaning your clothes, a dusty floor that looks like it’s probably just the dirt painted to look like the floor, and–oh look–a bed where all four grandparents live because old people are human garbage and we can just sort of pile them on there like that. But the mom looks slammin’ because, Hollywood.
For the next 30 minutes we volley back and forth between scenes of Charlie’s home and the homes of the other four children. The juxtaposition is clear. Charlie is poor, and he is good. He’s a worker. The marxist themes abound already!
3. The Children Are Horrible and The Parents Are Horrible; You’re All Horrible
I feel like writing reviews of these families is relatively futile. We’ve already been trained to hate them from the minute we meet them and I’m fine with that.
In chronological order of how they meet their end:
Augustus Gloop: Falls into the chocolate river. Queue and entire fat-shaming song and dance by the Oompa Loompas.
Violet Beauregard: Turns into a blueberry. Moving on.
Mike Teavee: Shrunk down to the size of a toothbrush and then presumably stretched back out to size in the taffy room. We don’t see the follow up scene for obvious reasons. Namely, that it would probably set fire the to already tenuous grasp this film holds on its PG rating.
Veruca Salt: Falls down a garbage shoot after demanding a goose that lays chocolate eggs. Was there a greek myth written about this? Also let’s talk about the father who allows a ten year old to verbally electrocute him over a chocolate egg laying goose. Someone did something bad and someone feels guilty….
Of course how could I forget the walking case of PTSD in a top hat, Willy Wonka. I am going to skip over the outfit entirely, as I am at a loss. Between the completely unprovoked proverbs, the shifty glances, and that scene in which he plays with Mike Teavee’s hair a little too long, I probably would have dipped and said I had a dentist appointment.
4. The End: Or Was It?
Charlie and Grandpa Joe narrowly escape this hell hole by the virtues of their character. Except for when they drank that fizzy soda and almost died in an industrial fan. I guess that’s why Wonka had them sign a release form that wasn’t so much a form but more a release mural.
After gaslighting Charlie into thinking he’s a horrible nasty little child for five minutes, Wonka scoops him up in his arms, proclaims him his heir, and then drags him and Grandpa Joe into a glass rocket that shoots them out into the sky.
This end fits my theory that the entire movie was a pre death hallucination of Grandpa Joe who met his end early on in the movie after sharing a bed with three other terminally old people for twenty years. Yes, they said it in the movie, twenty years.