Having proven itself as a favorite film of children around the world, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is every bit as entertaining now as it was when originally released in 1971. There's a timeless appeal to Roald Dahl's classic children's novel, which was playfully preserved in this charming musical, from the colorful carnival-like splendor of its production design to the infectious melody of the "Oompah-Loompah" songs that punctuate the story. Who can forget those diminutive Oompah-Loompah workers who recite rhyming parental warnings ("Oompah-Loompah, doopity do...") whenever some mischievous child has disobeyed Willy Wonka's orders to remain orderly? Oh, but we're getting ahead of ourselves ... it's really the story of the impoverished Charlie Bucket, who, along with four other kids and their parental guests, wins a coveted golden ticket to enter the fantastic realm of Wonka's mysterious confectionery. After the other kids have proven themselves to be irresponsible brats, it's Charlie who impresses Wonka and wins a reward beyond his wildest dreams. But before that, the tour of Wonka's factory provides a dazzling parade of delights, and with Gene Wilder giving a brilliant performance as the eccentric candyman, Wonka gains an edge of menace and madness that nicely counterbalances the movie's sentimental sweetness. It's that willingness to risk a darker tone--to show that even a wonderland like Wonka's can be a weird and dangerous place if you're a bad kid--that makes this an enduring family classic. --Jeff Shannon
The golden ticket on this DVD is a delectable commentary track with the five grown-up Wonka kids: Julie Dawn Cole, Denise Nickerson, Paris Themmen, Michael Bollner, and Charlie himself, Peter Ostrum. Reunited for the first time since 1971, they joke and laugh and delight in the stories and remembrances each new scene brings. Other Wonka goodies include the new 30-minute documentary Pure Imagination (featuring archival footage with author Roald Dahl and new interviews with Gene Wilder) and the original 1971 promotional featurette, but neither capture the sheer energy and excitement of the commentary. For 90 minutes these giddy grownups become impish kids in a movie wonderland almost as magical as Wonka's candy-colored world itself. --Sean Axmaker
Join the expedition visiting legendary Candy Man Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) in a splendiferous movie that wondrously brings to the screen the endlessly appetizing delights of Roald Dahl’s classic book. Coated with flavorful tunes and production design that constantly dazzles the eye, this effervescent musical never fails to enchant young and old. On a whirlwind tour of Willy’s incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections, a boy named Charlie (Peter Ostrum) will discover the sweetest secret of all: a generous, loving heart. And you’ll rediscover the timeless magic of a delicious family classic.