Questions Raised After Recently Seeing Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
I didn't want those litigious folks at Warner Brothers to come after me for using an image from the movie, so this will have to do. Photo by Marcus Quigmire from Florida, USA (Wonka) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I recently showed Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (the 1971 Gene Wilder version) to my daughter, as she had never seen it before. I had not viewed the movie in a very long time, and this showing caused me to puzzle over a lot of questions and/or wry observations.
1. Where is this movie set? It looks like it was shot in a German village populated by people with British accents. Except for Charlie's family and Willy Wonka, who seem to be American. Is this a place like the Village from The Prisoner, and everyone is either a former spy or their family. Maybe that's what happened to Charlie's father. He was killed doing spy stuff. Maybe he was James Bond or something. Never mind. This whole theory is dumb, but, still, where is this movie set?
2. That guy who sings "The Candy Man" comes off as a little weird, right?
3. Why is there some guy hanging around the chocolate factory at all hours dispensing creepy exposition to children?
4. For that matter, why is Charlie allowed to roam the streets at night? His family is not concerned for his safety.
5. Charlie's grandparents - all four of them - are bedridden, and have been for decades. All of them share a single bed in the middle of the living room. Meanwhile, Charlie has his own room and bed. The whole thing seems odd.
6. Don't even get me started on that malingering Grandpa Joe.
7. Charlie's teacher is really not good at his job at all.
8. So this whole contest is purportedly to award a tour of a factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate. So why are people going so berserk over it? I mean, the amount of money Mr. Salt spent on the chocolate to find the ticket could have probably been set aside for all the family's chocolate needs forever.
9. The amount of time it takes from the start of the movie until they get to the factory tour is egregious. That "Cheer Up, Charlie" song alone seems to last an hour. And then there's the excruciatingly long sequence of Charlie running home after he wins the ticket. Seriously, watch that again sometime. It's like the Forrest Gump running montage.
10. Who set up the chairs and red carpet outside the factory for the big day? Wouldn't someone have seen that happening?
11. The Oompa Loompas are moralistic about very strange things. Gluttony, fine. It's a seven deadly sin and all. And spoiled kids, sure, I can see that. But they seem a little high and mighty about gum chewing and watching television. Also, I can accept that maybe Oompa Loompa are musical improvisors on the level of Wayne Brady who can come up with songs on the spot about various moral lessons. But when did they choreograph their dances? Seems a little too polished to not have been pre-planned.
12. Let's talk about the musical numbers in general. They are oddly inconsistent. Why does anyone, other than the Oompa Loompas, break into song. There's the sad song by mom. There's the song Grandpa Joe sings when he gets out of bed (WHICH HE CLEARLY COULD HAVE DONE AT ANYTIME), Bill the weird candy seller sings a song, Willy Wonka sings an oddly melancholy song that, by all rights should be a happy one (why is he so sad singing "Pure Imagination"?), and then Veruca sings one while having a tantrum. That's basically it. It's a musical that's not really committed to being a musical. I don't think Charlie, the protagonist, even sings one.
13. Why does Wonka keep making vaguely risqué statements to Veruca Salt's dad?
14. Did the kids, overall, really do anything THAT bad? Veruca, yes. She was awful. But all Augustus Gloop did was drink chocolate after specifically being told BY WILLY WONKA that everything in the room was edible. Then Wonka basically pushed him in the river. Violet chewed some gum after being mildly told that it wasn't ready, and Mike TeeVee just got excited about teleportation technology, which makes a lot of sense. For their "crimes" they were almost drowned, inflated to possibly fatal proportions, and shrunk to the size of a mouse. Seems harsh, really.
15. Which brings us to Charlie. What he did was as bad or worse than what most of the kids did. He explicitly disobeyed an order from Wonka, but he didn't suffer any weird fate. Sure, he almost got chopped up by a fan, but nothing actually happened to him. At the end, he was given the Gobstopper morality test and passed. Why did he get that chance and none of the other kids did? Wonka was being blatantly unfair with this.
16. Are the Oompa Loompas covered by any collective bargaining agreement? In any case, are they being paid at all? Is there an on-site physician? How are worker's compensation claims - of which there would likely be many based on the horrifically unsafe conditions at the plant -handled?
17. The facility seems to be run in a very inefficient and slipshod manner, yet Wonka chocolates are shipped worldwide. Who is handling logistics?
18. For that matter, how does the product get out of the plant and into the distribution chain? No one goes in and no one comes out. How does the product get to stores then?
19. Is it even legal for a child to run a chocolate factory?
20. I hope Charlie makes Grandpa Joe do some honest work at the plant after they move in. That guy has been feigning a disability for decades. He could have helped out the family for years and made enough money to buy his own damn tobacco.
21. I bet Charlie's mom is quietly stewing over how much Charlie seems to like Grandpa Joe over her, when she does everything for the family. Charlie should have at least asked her if she wanted to go on the factory tour. But he didn't. I feel this deserves an Oompa Loompa song.
22. What was the point of the elevator shooting out of the building and destroying the roof? That won't be a cheap fix.
23. Will Charlie inherit the civil liability from the things that happened to the kids who went on the tour? Oh sure, the kids signed a waiver, but they are minors and there's no way those agreements are enforceable. Charlie needs to find a good lawyer. Or barrister. Or burgermeister. Or whatever is appropriate in their ill defined country.
24. How come no childless adults found a golden ticket? I'd have been amused if some 45 year old guy named Brad found one and just showed up by himself for the tour.
25. Why did that Tim Burton thing happen after this?