Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ★★★★★

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams."

I recently introduced Dahl's original source novel to my kids (ages 8 and 5), and read them one chapter a day for about 2 weeks. It's a fantastic piece of literature, and their imaginations were fired up every night. On the night I showed them this film, I gave them each a Wonka bar with a special golden ticket inside. They clung onto their golden tickets as they immersed themselves into this strange, dark, funny and surprisingly moving fantasy. They were hooked from the first twisted frame to the last. This is exactly how you get the kids' attention.

I grew up loving this mostly faithful adaptation, but I hadn't seen it in many years. I'm thrilled to say it holds up beautifully. Gene Wilder (and his spectacular hair) is pitch perfect; not only is this his best career performance, but it's one of the most charming and unforgettable characters in motion picture history. Wilder's mannerisms and tics, his speech, his cadences and even the words unsaid, it's all masterfully executed by an actor who I feel never got the full appreciation he deserved.

The film's an all-ages delight, even if it doesn't pander to a certain age or audience. It's definitely on the darker side, which makes it that much more enjoyable for the adults who are still little kids at heart.

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