So, this came out in 1971, four years before I was born. I know sometime when I was a kid I read “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator,” which is the sequel to the Roald Dahl book on which this movie was based, though at the time I don't think I knew it was a sequel. I probably figured it out, since it must have been obvious that some important stuff happened before the start of the book. But I don't really remember. I also don't remember when I first watched this movie. I'm thinking probably my friend Carl sent me a copy on VHS in like the late 1990s. But I wasn't doing reviews at the time, and I don't think I've seen the whole movie since then. Nor do I have a VCR anymore. But I picked it up on DVD in 2012, which is when I'm writing this review. I should also mention that there was a remake in 2005, called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which was actually the name of the book; I'm not sure why the original movie changed the title). But anyway, the original was way better than the remake. Um... I should also say I'm not sure what category to put this review in. Maybe “weird,” as I did with the remake. But “classics” would also work, as would “musicals.” I think “quirky” might almost work, but not quite; ditto for “fantasy.” But in spite of the G rating, I don't think I'd call it a “family” film....
Oh, I should also mention, even though this really has no bearing on the movie itself, that one of the movie's songs, “Pure Imagination,” was covered by the cast of Glee in one episode of that show, and I thought it was amazing. (Gene Wilder, who plays the title character Willy Wonka, sang it in the movie, and he's pretty good, himself.) In fact, the movie has had tremendous impact on pop culture. It's been parodied in countless shows, movies, etc., over the years. There's an actual candy company named after Willy Wonka, which makes lots of great stuff. There's a band called Veruca Salt, named after one of the characters in the book/movies. And... I dunno what else to say. But on an unrelated note... as I watch the movie tonight, I'll be trying some chocolate wine. I've been wanting to try the stuff for awhile, and I just thought it seemed appropriate, while watching a trippy movie about a chocolatier.
Oh, did I mention that the movie is trippy? Because it's trippy. Which isn't exactly surprising, given the era in which it was made. Anyway....
There's this young boy named Charlie Bucket, who lives with his mother and four bed-ridden grandparents, though the most important of them to the plot is Grandpa Joe. We see that the family is very poor, and Charlie works hard to help support them. He's clearly a very good boy. We also learn that some time ago, the chocolatier Willy Wonka locked the gates to his factory to keep people out, because rivals (most notably someone named Slugworth) had been stealing his recipes. But a few years after closing the factory, Wonka began selling chocolate again, even though the place was still locked up, so no one could go in or out. Which is a great mystery.
Then one day, there's an announcement that five Wonka bars will each contain a golden ticket, and whoever finds the tickets will be invited to take a tour of the factory, and receive a lifetime supply of chocolate. Of course Charlie wants one, but so does pretty much everyone else in the world. The search for the bars containing the tickets becomes big news. The first ticket is found by a gluttonous German boy named Augustus Gloop. The second is found by an English girl named Veruca Salt, who is about the most spoiled brat you've ever seen. The third is an American girl named Violet Beauregarde, who constantly chews gum and is kind of obnoxious. The fourth is found by an American boy named Mike Teevee, who is obsessed with watching television. And each of the winners is approached by a mysterious and kind of creepy man, who whispers something to them. (It's kind of odd that he always knew where to be; I mean, three of them were understandable, since they were being interviewed by the press, at different times, but he showed up to talk to one winner before the press knew the ticket had been found. It's also strange that no one paid any attention to a mysterious, creepy guy whispering in children's ears. But whatever.)
After a brief misdirection, Charlie finds the final ticket. He's approached by the same man as the other winners, who says his name is Arthur Slugworth. He tells Charlie that Wonka is working on a new candy called an Everlasting Gobstopper, and he wants Charlie to bring him one of them, so he can discover the secret formula. In exchange, he'd make Charlie rich. Anyway, Charlie goes home to share the news about the ticket with his family. He can take one relative with him, and he wants it to be Grandpa Joe. So Joe gets out of bed for the first time in twenty years. And in spite of some trouble standing at first, he's soon dancing around more than anyone in his condition should be able to. Of course, Charlie tells Joe about Slugworth.
And then, on the appointed day, all the winners show up at the factory: Charlie and Joe, Augustus and his mother, Veruca and her father, Violet and her father, Mike and his mother. They're all greeted by the mysterious but colorful recluse Willy Wonka, and go inside. And that's when, finally, halfway into the movie... things really start to get trippy. Until this point there's been a fair amount of humor concerning how obsessed the world is with the golden tickets, and there's been sympathy building for Charlie and his family. But now... now is when the fun really starts. Alas, if you don't have a golden ticket, I can't tell you about anything that happens once they all enter the factory.
The chocolate wine I've been drinking was delicious, but not strong enough. Sigh. Good movie, though.