It’s a rainy, dreary day today and I planned to treat the kids to a movie. However, there are only two child-friendly movies (out of 25!) showing at our local movie theatre. I realized I was better off looking into our own library of titles for something to watch, and from among the choices I gave him, Neil selected the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
It was refreshing to see the old movie, since I saw the 2005 remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when it was in the theatres. The story is the same in both, and I like them both, though they’re likeable in different ways. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is darker, and Neil finds the paddleboat’s tunnel ride too frightening. The older movie also manages to get in a few more digs of social commentary. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has far better child actors and they play a bigger role than the parents, who had almost all the lines in the original. The new movie is also more fantastical and Willy Wonka’s factory comes across like a magic world better than it did in the 1971 movie. I only realized later that the geese who laid the giant golden chocolate eggs were replaced by squirrels and chocolate nuts in the remake, but it ended up being minor as far as the story was concerned.
The big difference is with Willy Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas. I was really bugged by Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka. He just seemed stoned. Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka seemed to be out of it, too, but he was more of a trickster, and I like that better. On the other hand, the Oompa-Loompa(s) in the new movie almost stole the show. I love “them” and “their” costumes. The original movie was almost half-musical with many of the characters singing, but if I remember correctly, only the Oompa-Loompas sang in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but they had some great songs. Oh, if it hadn’t been for the great child actors, the Oompa-Loompa(s) would have been the film.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a great book, and both the movies made from it are great. And I think as long as there are badly-behaved kids like Veruka Salt and Violet Beauregard, there’ll always be an audience for its story.