Willy Wonka And the Chocolate Factory: Reunited And It Feels So Good

As you know, my sister and I have made it a semi-regular habit to attend celebrity appearance events at our local theaters, Hollywood Palms and Hollywood Boulevard. It was only two months ago that we met Henry Winkler, Penny Marshall, and Eddie “Carmine ‘the Big Ragu” Ragusa” Mekka. In the spring, we met Burt Reynolds.

This weekend there was another event we couldn’t resist: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” on the big screen, in honor of its *cough cough* 40th anniversary. This film is a huge one with my family in general, but it was also the first movie I saw in the theater, ever. Though we have watched it at home over the years a hundred times, we didn’t want to miss seeing it on the big screen again.

But there would be more: all five of the actors who played the kids in the movie would be “hosting” the movie. WHAT?

Willywonkareunion poster

We arrived early enough to take some pictures from afar (we didn’t elect to pay the money to meet and get personal pictures with them), and it was very exciting to see their adult selves sitting there together, signing autographs. I got halfway decent pictures of all of them except for Julie Dawn Cole (who played Veruca): my apologies! She’s not really that blurry in person.

The first three to go: Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner), Violet Beauregard (Denise Nickerson), and Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole)
The last one eliminated, the winner, and the man behind the Oompa Loompas: Mike TeeVee (Paris Themmen), Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), and Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder)

(Unfortunately Gene Wilder wasn’t there: I needed him for my triptych, though!)

Watching the movie was an extraordinary experience. I found myself becoming a little emotional when it came to Charlie’s plight, even knowing that it was all going to turn out more than fine. Once again I appreciated Roald Dahl’s (the author of the book the movie was based on, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) lessons about how children who are gluttonous, rude, spoiled, or addicted to television don’t go the distance, but polite, thoughtful, loving children do.

Of course, even knowing that, the world’s greatest temper tantrum is always fun to watch.

And Gene Wilder? Whoa. From his sarcastic eye rolling and “No, don’t, stop…” when the kids were acting against his wishes, to the “You lose! Good day, sir!”, to his happiness when Charlie proved himself to be “the One”, he was just as amazing in this, my (approximately) 101st view of the movie, as in every other time. He should have won an Oscar, yet he wasn’t even nominated. (He *was*, however, nominated for a Golden Globe.)

When it was over, I wanted to watch it all over again. Though I am very happy in my life and appreciate all of the modern conveniences today’s world offers, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” brought back the warm and fuzzies for a simpler time. It was a lovely way to spend part of a Saturday afternoon.

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