Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - Rotten Candy
| I grew up loving Ronald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The book was one of my favourites and my well read copy was maligned despite my best efforts to keep it in good condition.
Surprisingly I never saw the musical adaptation starring Gene Wilder entitled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory until I was in my early 20s. Maybe this was a fortunate thing. I was horrified at what this film did to my memory of the book.
Now, usually I am the first to roll my eyes when some fanatic gets upset because the film version isn't exactly the way they pictured it in their minds. The English Patient may be a different story than the book but it's still a good story. But when a film takes the thing you love and tramples on it for no good reason, the fans have a legitimate gripe.
What's wrong with Willy Wonka? Well, there is the God-awful music. I love a good musical… but I hate a bad one and with the horrible Oompa Loompa songs still stinging my brain I have fortunately all but forgotten the other forgettable melodies from that score. Oh wait… The Candy Man Can… now that will be stuck in my head for weeks.
Then there are the unnecessary changes. Why golden goose eggs? Why?
Worst of all is the cast. Except for a delightfully bratty Veruca Salt, the rest of the cast stinks especially Peter Ostrum as Charlie. He skips around like a freak and has no purpose but to look pathetic and pitiable. This isn't the noble and deserving Charlie I wanted to see on the screen.
Many are loyal fans of Gene Wilder but I was just not in the right generation to appreciate him. He plays Wonka like this freak is on tranquilizers. He's just a frustrated but oddly dressed middle age man in this film. He's not worthy of representing this literary character or having the whole title of the film changed to boost his ego.
Thank God, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I finally got to see one of my favourite childhood books brought to the screen with the respect it deserves. Skip this and buy a golden ticket for Burton's take.