I actually don’t know how I’ve been writing this column for so long and haven’t discussed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory yet. When I was growing up, besides Disney movies, we had a finite amount of movies on VHS in my house (not including movies I taped off the TV, of course). So whenever I was home sick from school, (after Regis and Kathie Lee, of course) I’d watch a rotation of When Harry Met Sally, Parenthood, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Witches, The Princess Bride and, of course, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
I really really thought I kept all the movies from my VHS collection when I moved cross country but based on what is currently on the shelf I’d say “I guess not”:
(Which, by the way, means I can no longer say I own When Harry Met Sally on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray because apparently I don’t have my VHS in my possession and I am so bummed now I can barely continue this.)
Okay, we’re back.
This movie made me forever be in love with Gene Wilder, want to win a trip to a chocolate factory and really want Oompa Loompas to sing everything I do.
Here are five ways Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ruined my life:
1. Made Me Unable to Read the Book
I know, I know.
And this is why I now make it a point to read the book before a movie happens. But I spent so many hours watching and re-watching this movie that when I tried to read it, I just couldn’t! This distressed me so much and so I tried reading The Witches (also a favorite movie of mine based on a Roald Dahl book) and was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually could read it. Not sure what it was about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Maybe they just changed too many details. Maybe I just couldn’t get over the different title. Who knows?
Thank goodness for my English teacher mother for making me read Harriet the Spy well in advance of a movie being made. I was already eating tomato sandwiches (and then updating it to be just cucumbers) by the time Michelle Trachtenberg stepped into that role.
Anyway, I mean, let’s not be crazy, I EVENTUALLY read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It just proved more difficult than normal since I knew the movie so well. And so this movie taught me a valuable lesson to always read the book first. Unless it’s The Lovely Bones and you didn’t think you could handle the book and saw the movie and definitely couldn’t handle that either but at least it was over in 90 minutes.
2. Tricked Me Into Thinking I Had A Sweet Tooth
I mean, look, I liked trick-or-treating and I liked Easter Baskets but I just have always been more into savory snacks than sweet. I don’t really like chocolate – and, due to my reflux (why am I sharing this?) – I’m also not supposed to eat it. So I would eat candy but I didn’t go nuts for it. I could always stop and would usually not finish all my candy haul.
But every time Willy Wonka started and those images of chocolate went in front of my eyeballs, I LOVED chocolate. You know how in Perks of Being a Wallflower in that moment they would swear they were infinite? Well, that’s how I feel about the opening to Willy Wonka.
And then they’re just surrounded by candy the whole time and I more crave potato chips but still the CANDY! THE CANDY looked amazing! (Okay, full disclosure I have a bag of M&M’s and a bag of Hersey’s Kisses in my fridge right now but it’s because they’re pumpkin-flavored, okay?)
3. Started My Deep Love of Brats
But my first kind-of-brunette-adjacent, bratty love was Veruca Salt.
She was my absolute favorite character in Willy Wonka. I mean, her song is SO good and fun to sing along to, she gets to say, “Snozzberries? Who ever heard of a snozzberry?” and she’s just generally pretty entertaining.
I even was her for Halloween last year!
I mean, let’s be real, I get that Charlie is “good” or whatever, but he’s no fun! He only bought two Wonka bars just because he’s poor and couldn’t afford more? Talk about a snozzberry!
(The message of this movie may have been lost on me as a child.)
4. Mike TeeVee Made Me Think I Was Making Legitimate Life Choices
I’d say Mike TeeVee is probably my third favorite kid in this gang, 2nd is Violet, of course, and even though Charlie is lame I really dislike Augustus. Come on, man, DON’T DRINK THE CHOCOLATE!
Obviously Mike TeeVee and I are pretty similar in that we share a Favorite Thing In the World and that is television.
So again, missing the point of his character/the movie/the world, I just was like, “COOL! THIS KID IS AS INTO TV AS I AM! MAYBE I SHOULD START DRESSING LIKE A COWBOY!”
5. Thought Four Adults Living in a Bed Together Was Totes Normal
Here’s the thing, until I was an adult, I never really gave that whole Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina, Grandma Josephine and Grandpa Joe thing a lot of thought.
Okay, he has four grandparents, totally normal.
They’re all named boy and girl versions of the same name? Okay, fine.
They all live in the same bed. Totally fine!
I mean, this is actually insane. Also, given the fact that they’ve been bed-ridden forever, I don’t think we celebrate Grandpa Joe’s movement quite enough, actually. Like, this man has been horizontal for YEARS, literal YEARS and gets up and aside from a few stumbles just starts dancing! Then he goes on a trip to a chocolate factory where he’s walking most of the time and it’s totally fine! Sigh.
P.S. I always get so sad when they try the fizzy lifting drinks but I definitely would have wanted to too but I’m too much of a rule follower and maybe that’s why I don’t like Charlie. Too close to home.