Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wonka Bashing

I was reading through Amazon comments about "Willy Wonka" and decided to respond to one of them for kicks. Here's the original post and my rebuttal.

One Sick puppy..., November 15, 2008
A Kid's Review

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of those movies thats just so twisted its not even funny. The first time I saw this movie, I was about four and it scared the crap out of me. I remember the sadistic, demented Willy Wonka played by Gene Wilder (Who is probably the best thing this movie has as a fan of his other movies.)and the hellish Oompa Lompas with their little songs. Let's not forget that tunnel w/ the snakes and chickens, I had nightmares for months. Was it wrong that I felt sorry for the fat boy who got sucked up the tunnel? Or the little girl who got turned into that blueberry? I mean it was sick!!! Their kids they don't even know their behavior is wrong! I mean of course I know its fake but still. You never even know what happened to them (their actually is a small line about them being alright but I didn't hear it until like the 3rd viewing.) The special effects a downright terrible, even for back then. The chocolate river looked like some kiddy w/ mud in it. The musical scores (Besides "The Candy Man") were downright awful.
What I don't understand most is that this movie is considered a classic. Its played regularly on tv, and was shown almost daily at my school. If this movie is for you that's fine, you're entitled to your opinion, no need to bash me in your comments, that's just stupid. All I want to say is that I have no idea how a movie that was a critical and box office flop became regarded as a children's classic. This movie is way to disturbing for young children and maybe some adults. I'm even a fan of the book and I don't like this. What we fans need to a truth to the book adaption. Then we'll be satisfied.

and now my response:

I'll take issue with your comments as well (just for kicks). Anyway, I saw this movie originally when I was 4 in the theater in 1971 upon first release! Yes, it was freaky and weird and a bit disturbing especially during the boat ride, but it became my favorite movie of all time, and leaps and bounds greater than that inferior "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movie, which I so much wanted to love, too, but couldn't, and "Charlie" WAS more faithful to the book.

The main problem with the book is Roald Dahl. Even though I love him as an author and he has great ideas, some of his book ideas really don't translate well to the motion picture screen and "Willy Wonka" solved the majority of those book problems and made it a better story, as a result.

Strange if you are a fan of the book, as you state, then you should remember the kid sucked up the tube and the girl who got turned into a blueberry as those remained unchanged from the book.

Actually for years it WASN'T played on TV. It was, in the early 70s, but by the late 70s through the mid-80s due to ownership changes from Paramount to Warner Bros, it remained strangely hidden from view.

Finally, I take great issue with your comment "The special effects are downright terrible, even for back then". Actually, they were state-of-the-art for 1971. Really! When the words pop up saying "brat" and "cat" and "mother" and "father", those were actually the very first computer graphics, and this was the first feature film to use them. They were also used at the same time on "Sesame Street" and the then brand-new "Electric Company" TV shows. Without those effects, you wouldn't have all those Pixar films and all those feature films you have nowadays that rely so much on computer animated effects, including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". In "Willy Wonka", this was the best you could do in 1971. You can't bash a film's special effects for that.

Of course, you are entitled to your own opinions, but please do some research before making "factual" statements that are presented as "truth".


Mykal said...

Mark: Way to go! I have noticed over the years that the "Kid's Reviews" on Amazon seem written by ignorant teenagers or adults. You set the record straight. It seems anything older than 15 minutes is misunderstood or undervalued. You had to be there to remember what an event this movie was. -- Mykal

Paul Castiglia said...

I'm with you Mark - the screenwriters of "Wonka" turned Dahl's book it into something cinematic... and more importantly gave the story some heft by actually making it redemptive. When someone can point out to me how the remake approaches anything close to redemption I'll eat my hat. It just doesn't.

As for the notion that "Wonka" is too scary for children and maybe some adults, it seems like somewhere along the line Hollywood was shanghaied by overprotective types who want to neutralize everyone's emotions. Being scared by the likes of "Wonka" and Disney's Pinocchio as a child are part of my makeup - those experiences helped me grow.

I must also take this opportunity to plug a college friend's wonderful satirical short, "Citizen Candy Man" that follows Charlie and the other kids as adults years after the events depicted in "Wonka." You can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugTBhx5d_0o

Simon Foster said...


I have to take issue with your taking issue. Let's look at all your direct challenges to the reviewer (as opposed to the bits where you and he just comment on the movie):

1. "you should remember the kid...and the girl..." - he doesn't say he doesn't remember them from the book, he just says he felt sorry for them and thought those bits were "sick".

2. TV. He says "Its played regularly on tv, and was shown almost daily at my school". You actually shoot down your own "it WASN'T played on TV" comment on this (thanks!) by then admitting that it WAS "in the early 70s", which is quite possibly when the reviewer was at school. His "Its played" comment would seem to refer to NOW, and NOW, yes, it is on TV quite a bit.

3. Special Effects. Look, what you think, and what the reviewer thinks, might constitute SFX might be 2 different things. His only example is "The chocolate river" and your only example is the pop-up computer graphics. If you can't find some common ground - did either of you really believe those oompas had orange skin? or that Violet had really turned violet? - or compare the movie to something else released at that time - how does it stack up against Bedknobs and Broomsticks, also from 1971? - then you're not going to make a point.

In fact, it looks like your rebuttal is more guilty of "making "factual" statements that are presented as "truth"" than his was!


Mark Arnold said...

Hi Simon,

I made my points tit for tat, so if the original reviewer was presenting things as "fact", so was I, so yes, I am guilty of that, but for no more reason as to get my point across.

Anyway, the reviewer I bashed was significantly younger than myself (I'm 43) and it was labeled as a "Kid's Review". You sound significantly younger yourself, by using terms like "dude" and "fail". Of course, this is insignificant, except for the fact that the reviewer probably did see the movie ad nauseum when he was a kid, as it does play regularly now.

As far as how often it played on TV, I believe it played three times total in the early 70s (1973-1975) before it went into TV dormancy until the 1980s, but certainly nowhere near the levels the original viewer saw it.

Yes, we do have different opinions of what SFX are. The original reviewer seems to think that only computer graphics are SFX, so that's why I discussed that aspect and not makeup and other visual effects. Also, "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" is another good film from that time and I would compare them favorably.

I respect your views, but yours comes across about as harsh as the original viewers, but that's ok. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions.

I assume from this that you like "Charlie" over "Willy"? That was unclear. It doesn't matter, however.

Ultimately, I don't really care what the original reviewer or you thinks. I like "Willy Wonka" and was having a little fun bashing a review that was bashing my favorite film and the entire thing or my comments shouldn't be taken too seriously.