Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971): Family Friendly Movie Review

For the past several weeks now, my 4 year-old son and I have been listening nothing but the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, on the way to and from school and work each day in my car.

I’m pretty sure he and I have all the words to the songs pretty much memorized by now…

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When it comes to musicals, they’re not really my thing. However, the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (not the Johnny Depp version) is the exception. It has remained, by default, one of my favorite movies since I first saw it 25 years ago when I was in 2nd grade.

This past weekend, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the DVD so I decided it was time to see what my son Jack thought of it. Not to mention, I was anxious to see it again; it had been at least 15 years for me; plus my wife had never seen it all the way through.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was rated G, back in 1971, when it was first released in theatres and that is the rating that the DVD upholds as well. It was given that raiting only 3 years after America’s movie rating system was set in place. In certain regards though, the ratings system was much more liberal back then.

I think if this version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were released today, it would at least be rated PG; possibly even PG-13.

Willy Wonka Nick Shell

Just for the boat ride scene alone. Enough said, right?

In addition to this part of the movie being extremely suspenseful, Willy Wonka screams about “by the fires of hell a glowing” as footage is shown of an actual chicken getting its head chopped off.

However, my son was completely unfazed by the boat ride scene. He actually seemed to like it!

For Jack, the “most inappropriate” part of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was actually some of the lyrics to one of the Oompa Loompas’ songs:

“What are you at getting terribly fat? What do you think will come of that?”

Right now we are currently teaching him how it’s not okay to say that someone is fat. So I imagine it seemed like a double standard to him when the Oompa Loompas used that phrase.

Other than that, there’s also the fact that all of the other children appear to die while in the chocolate factory. Granted, Willy Wonka (somewhat generically) assures Charlie at the very end of the movie that all the kids are okay.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971): Family Friendly Movie Review

It just depends on whether or not you want to believe a bipolar candyman who uses the labor of little people whom he supposedly rescued, then who turns over his candy factory to a young boy whose grandfather stayed in bed for 20  years who magically was able to sing and dance the moment his grandson found the last remaining golden ticket.

While there are some elements of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that may be a bit inappropriate for a 4 year-old, it’s still a movie that I ultimately had no concerns about exposing my son to.

In fact, most of the movie is perfectly appropriate for a 4 year-old. The chocolate, the absurdity, the songs, the pure imagination…

It was even better than I remembered it! Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a bit creepy at times, but still I think it’s less creepy than The Wizard of Oz.

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Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt