Running Time: 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
Format: Standard 4:3, Widescreen1:85:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.99 (OOP)

Own It!
Willy Wonka and
the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The big news is that candy impresario Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) is opening his top secret factory to the lucky finders of five golden tickets hidden at random in his famous Wonka Bars. Our poverty-stricken hero, Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) dreams of being one of the winners, but what chance does he have when others are able to buy bars by the thousands? Well, since this is a musical fantasy, Charlie of course gets one, and he and his Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) join the other winners - spoiled brats all - on the tour of the factory, which is a combination wonderland and madhouse. Each of the other childrens' special brand of greed leads to their elimination from the group, until only Charlie remains... and after a characteristically kind gesture, Charlie finds he has won much more than a lifetime supply of chocolate.

As a piece of early 70's whimsey, Willy Wonka has aged pretty well. Up until Wonka enters the picture - almost a half-hour into the proceedings - it's a fairly typical movie musical. But once the tour group enters the wrought iron gates of the Wonka Factory, the movie becomes prime children's entertainment: colorful, comical, and sometimes even scary.

Warner Brothers has used a beautiful print for their transfer - if there was ever a blemish present, it happened while I blinked. The colors seem a bit subdued, but are true throughout, with genuine blacks and good skin tones - I must chalk up what I perceived as a lack of saturated colors to faulty memories on my part. The newly remastered Dolby soundtrack is under-utilized, but just as crisp and clean as the image itself.

Like most double-sided discs, the movie begins immediately after loading, and the main menu only loads afterwards, or if you summon it up with your remote control. Wonka is sadly lacking in the extras department, composed only of some scant text pages detailing such things as the adaptation process (two pages), minor actor trivia, and an annoying Oompa-Loompa page that tells us merely that 'the secret of their origins is locked in studio vaults'. 'Reel Recommendations' offers those two other family films featuring Gene Wilder, Blazing Saddles and Bonnie and Clyde. There are also two trailers, one specifically for the movie's 25th anniversary release, and an interesting one which has no narrator, but lets the pictures and dialogue speak for itself.

Dr. Freex