Celebrating its 50th anniversary June 30th of 2021, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” is a movie that hasn’t aged since 1971 and shows no sign of aging any time soon. Even with the Tim Burton second adaptation and the upcoming prequel, Mel Stuart’s cinematic version of the Roald Dahl fantasy book still remains on the top of the heap. Even looking at it without nostalgia lens, the Gene Wilder fantasy is excellent in every sense of the word, while Wilder’s titular performance is unrivaled.
I understand why Roald Dahl hates “Willy Wonka.” Surely, it’s nothing like his original novel, and I get why fans would hate that it strays so immensely from the source material (i.e. World War Z) but that doesn’t mean “Willy Wonka” isn’t a good movie. In fact, it’s pretty damn excellent, and manages to evoke a sense of whimsy and menace that’s invigorating and refreshing for a kid’s film. Everything Tim Burton tried so hard to do, director Mel Stuart and Gene Wilder pull off without even trying very hard. With a single gleam of his eye, Wilder pulls off more hints at a devious personality than all Johnny Depp’s white make up, and bad wigs combined.