W = Willy Wonka, A to Z Blog Challenge

Willy Wonka was a delightful lunatic. He was a genius, a fat pusher, a sarcastic jerk, a terrorizer of children, a monument to creativity, and someone that every child wanted to meet.

Willy WonkaWe are here to discuss the GOOD movie, not the lamentable Johnny Depp vehicle that was foisted on the world in 2005. Johnny Depp is an actor unlike any we have at the moment — relentlessly quirky, undeniably talented, and dedicated to his art. Tim Burton, who directed this version, is a treasure and one of my favorite directors. This time, the collaboration didn’t work for me. At least, not in comparison to the 1971 version.

This terror, like the forceful mating of Satan and Caesar Flickerman, is probably why.

This terror, like the forceful mating of Satan and Caesar Flickerman, is probably why.

The version we all grew up with starred the incomparable Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, a man we all thought we could convince that we would be the best heirs to the chocolate empire he built. We all thought we were Charlie Bucket, and I’m sure nobody thought they were that nasty (but wildly entertaining) brat Veruca Salt, the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, the media zombie Mike Teevee, or the rude gum fanatic Violet Beauregard. We all know the story, but let’s skip down that lane, shall we?

Willy Wonka is the best chocolate and candy maker in the world, and he suddenly offers a lifetime supply of chocolate to the five finders of a golden ticket, which he has hidden in five of his chocolate bars throughout the world (yet strangely, only little white kids find them).

Every character in the movie and every kid who watched this wanted one of these. Tell me you can't hear the song right now. "I've got a Golden Tickeeeeet…"

Every character in the movie and every kid who watched this wanted one of these. Tell me you can’t hear the song right now. “I’ve got a Golden Tickeeeeet…”

Eventually, five kids find the tickets, including the poor and kind little Charlie Bucket, whose paper route brings in enough money to save his mother and four bed-ridden grandparents from cabbage water forever. We won’t talk about the four old people in one liver spotted cesspool of a bed, in a living situation that would trouble Amnesty International. Charlie and his mother support these geriatric freeloaders who supposedly cannot get out of bed. Until Charlie finds a Golden Ticket.

We're on to your shit, Grandpa Joe.

We’re on to your shit, Grandpa Joe.

Charlie decides to take Grandpa Joe on the tour of the chocolate factory rather than his hard working mother. Grandpa supposedly hasn’t walked in years, but he’s suddenly dancing and walking marathons within the factory.

Gateway to fat, madness, and lunatic fun.

Gateway to fat, madness, and lunatic fun.

All five kids and their escorts join together to go on their tour with Willy Wonka himself through his genius factory of death. I mentioned Caesar Flickerman earlier, the television host in the Hunger Games, which is appropriate. What the kids don’t know is that they are in a battle to the death, or at the very least the possibility of it, for the honor of carrying on Willy Wonka’s empire of chocolate, candy, and slave labor to fake-tanned, short Jersey Shore denizens.

Willy Wonka Hunger GamesThe kids fail in spectacular fashion, and we see that, far from being eccentric, Willy Wonka is a complete psychopath…but a funny one with a heart of gold. The fat kid falls in a chocolate river and is sucked up in a tube, eventually shooting out like a bullet. He misses most of the best room in the factory, where everything is edible, made of candy.

Every kid wanted this room. Remember the giant gummy bears? As a lifelong decapitator and eater of gummy bears, this part made me ache with fatty desire.

Every kid wanted this room. Remember the giant gummy bears? As a lifelong decapitator and eater of gummy bears, this part made me ache with fatty desire.

One girl blows up into a blueberry and has to be put in a vise and squeezed until the juice comes out of her. I always wondered…where does the juice exit her body? And what do they do with it after? The spoiled brat falls through a chute which may or may not lead her to a fiery death. The TV freak is shrunk down to the size of a small rodent and taken to the medieval torture device, the rack, to be stretched out to normal size. Wonka calls this the Taffy Pulling Machine. *wink, wink* Think about THAT the next time you’re eating a piece of Laffy Taffy.

These torturous horrors are perpetuated on these admittedly terrible children whenever they mess up, not by Wonka himself, but rather by his aforementioned orange slaves.

The Oompa Loomas, singing, moralistic bringers of pain. And chocolate production, apparently.

The Oompa Loomas, singing, moralistic bringers of pain. And chocolate production, apparently.

At the end, Willy Wonka fakes out the one good kid, Charlie, and we realize that under his charming, funny sadism, Mr. Wonka has a heart of gold. And a glass elevator. Charlie gets the factory as long as he follows Wonka’s totalitarian rule, and he can live in the Death Factory with his mother and freeloading grandparents who presumably get their own beds.

Cynical analysis of this movie aside, I, and every good human, loves this movie. It’s beyond amazing. As a small tale before I go, last year I was in physical therapy for my messed up leg, and around the holidays some TV channel was showing classic kid’s movies. We all watched from time to time, not paying attention. Until the day they were playing Willy Wonka. Everyone, patients and therapists, helpers and front desk people, old and young and in between stopped, glued to the screens situated around the room. We had all seen the movie, several people were singing along, everyone was discussing it, and we were all entranced. Several of us admitted to having the movie at home, therefore having the ability to watch the movie at any time. But at that time, it was this weird, unifying, communal experience.

Looking around, I noticed something. Everyone — the women, the men, the elderly, the straight injured jocks, the gay guy, the cute Asian girl — everyone had a little smile on their faces while watching the movie. If that isn’t the power of a good, nostalgic movie, and a communal experience nothing is.

Alternate letter considerations: Wizard, worm, witch/wicca, wolf

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 27, 2015.

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