Questions for the Movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
One of the most unusual movies in the history of American cinema, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) fascinates people around the world with its strange badness and awkward and depressing tone. At the same time, it offers some quick wit, cult fun, and of course Gene Wilder.
I decided against reviewing the movie. The basic facts are all over IMDb. Instead, I’m just going to ask a few of the questions we’ve all asked about this film.
- What country does this take place in? Some people are British or American, but Grandma Georgina has an awkward German accent. The architecture suggests Eastern Europe. Wherever it is, it’s a place without suburbs, because Charlie can run five minutes from bustling downtown to his shack, which clearly is surrounded by woods.
- What time period are we in? We have modern conveniences, but Charlie’s mom works in an archaic laundromat. Some characters wear horrible 70s clothing, others are wearing various fashion trends from across time and space.
- Was Grandpa Joe working at Wonka’s factory when he fired all the workers? That would explain some things.
- Since we learn at the end that Slugworth isn’t Slugworth (he’s “Mr. Wilkinson”) can we assume that Wonka rigged the contest? He’s there every time a ticket is found.
- If he did rig the contest, why would Wonka pick four horrible kids and one good one?
- What’s wrong with the grandparents? They’ve all been bedridden for 20 years. Did they all get polio at the same time?
- Grandpa hasn’t moved off the bed in 20 years, but the first time he tries to walk it takes about 30 seconds to figure it out. Wouldn’t Charlie be kind of upset that this guy, whom he had sacrificed his paper route money to buy tobacco for, loafed around for 20 years?
- Why doesn’t Grandpa George have any lines?
- Why does nobody know what Slugworth looks like? Is he as reclusive as Wonka?
- Who is the guy who explains the factory to Charlie? A knife salesman out at night in an abandoned street? How did Charlie not hear his incredibly loud cart approaching?
- People buy millions of bars, so doesn’t this just seem like an enormously successful publicity scheme? Sure, Wonka gives the factory to Charlie, but this contest means he won’t have to work for the rest of his life. In fact, he’s pawning the stress to Charlie.
- Not even the car salesman realizes that children cannot legally sign any sort of legally binding contract?
- If the contest is rigged, isn’t Wonka showing some prejudice by picking five white children? If it isn’t rigged, what are the odds of this happening?
- To “save” the Oompa-Loompa population, Wonka brought them to his factory to work for him as slave labor? Even if he paid them, they couldn’t spend it because they never leave the factory.
- Isn’t it highly inappropriate to continue a tour after the near death of a child, much less to sing a song after each time this happens?
- I’m just going to skip the whole psychedelic boat ride thing.
- Why would you design a room with “Fizzy Lifting Drinks” with an industrial fan at the top?
- Did anybody notice Charlie and Grandpa Joe missing?
- What is the point of the Wonkamobile? It makes a mess and gets them from one end of the room to the other.
- The Wonkamobile only has five seats. Doesn’t this strongly imply that Wonka knew there would only be two children left by this point?
- Does Grandpa Joe ever get his coat and hat back?
- Using modern prices, wouldn’t a trip to wherever the factory is cost more than a lifetime supply of chocolate would?