The Fundamental Flaw With Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

I have a really unpopular opinion, in that I prefer the 2005 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory movie over the original version. A lot of people are shocked to hear that, since the original is such a classic. But that’s not to say I hate the original. There are things in it that I do like. The special effects are good for the time, Gene Wilder does a good Willy Wonka, and the kids are (mostly) well portrayed. Since the movie is a musical, it is kind of weird that they didn’t use any of the songs from the book, but on their own merits, the songs are catchy and memorable.

But, even with all that said, the original movie has one huge, glaring flaw that prevents me from calling it a “classic” like everyone else does. And that flaw is that Charlie breaks a rule.

I’m sure you all know how the story goes: five kids find golden tickets hidden in random candy bars from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, which grant them access to a day tour of the factory. Along the way, they run into a lot of situations where Mr. Wonka tells the kids not to do something, but they do it anyway, with disastrous results. Every time this happens, the kid gets sent away to be fixed. Or…as fixed as they can be. Eventually, Charlie is the only one left. Mr. Wonka tells Charlie the real reason for the golden tickets: he wanted to find someone new to run his chocolate factory, and out of the five kids who found the golden tickets, Charlie proved himself to be the most worthy. The other kids were, quite frankly, absolute brats who did not deserve the grand prize of owning Willy Wonka’s business.

At least, that’s how it goes in the book. In the 1971 movie, Charlie breaks a rule. Mr. Wonka tells him and Grandpa Joe not to drink the Fizzy Lifting Drinks, but they do it anyway and almost die. In other words, Charlie broke a rule. Charlie. Broke. A. Rule.

What. The. Blazes?

Why, just why? Why did they make Charlie break a rule? The whole point of the book was that Charlie was the only good kid out of the whole bunch. Augustus Gloop was a greedy little kid destined to die from obesity, Violet Beauregard was full of herself, Mike Teevee was on course to be that loser who still dwells in their parents’ basement playing video games when they’re 35, and Veruca Salt…ugh. I wish I could just punch that little brat. But Charlie was none of those things. He was a nice, sweet little boy who cared for his family and always followed the rules. But if he goes against the rules Mr. Wonka established, then how is he any better than the others?

The ending of the movie really exemplifies this issue. By process of elimination, Charlie is the only kid left, so he asks Mr. Wonka if he’s won the grand prize. But Mr. Wonka says no, because of the floating drink incident. He sends Charlie and Grandpa Joe away, saying that they’ve lost like the others did. But then Charlie comes up and gives Mr. Wonka the Everlasting Gobstopper that he’d pocketed earlier to take back to “Slugworth.” To which Mr. Wonka says that “Slugworth” was actually one of his employees, and the Gobstopper thing was a morality test.

Um…what? That just makes things even more complicated and confusing. Wonka wanted to see if the kids were worthy to run his factory, okay. But wouldn’t he be able to judge that based on what he observed of them during their factory tour? Like I said, we saw how four out of those five kids were horrible people who ended up breaking rules. No one in their right mind would deem them worthy of running a company.

Now, you could raise the point that Mr. Wonka didn’t know how “good” or “bad” the kids who found the golden tickets would be. For all he knew, every kid who came to his factory would be like Charlie. But what if more than one kid passed the Gobstopper morality test? Uhhhhh.

And from a screenwriting perspective, this just makes no sense. You want to butcher Charlie’s character from the book by making him stoop down to the same level as the other kids by breaking a rule, when the whole point of the book was that Charlie didn’t break any rules, and therefore was worthy to inherit the Wonka business. But if you’re gonna add an extra subplot where Charlie is worthy after all, then what was the point of all that? It’s just…ugh. Roald Dahl, the author of the book, said that he hated the movie, and frankly, I don’t blame him.

This is where I think the 2005 movie greatly succeeds. This movie is much more faithful to the book, in that it portrays Charlie as the very definition of “nice kid.” He shows an undying love for his family, he never breaks any rules, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid grew up to be President. That’s not to say that the 2005 movie is without its flaws. My big gripe with it is, ironically, the ending. Not that it’s “bad.” It is nice to see Willy Wonka reconcile with his father, and for him to reach a compromise with Charlie where his family does get to live with him in the chocolate factory. But, again, it wasn’t in the book. It really feels like the screenwriters just decided to do whatever popped into their heads when writing the ending. But, like I said, the 2005 movie succeeds where the original failed. And that is the reason why I prefer it over the original.

“The earth says hello!”
(I couldn’t resist. :stuck_out_tongue: )


Ah nice, another TWP essay.

Personally, I think that Charlie leaving behind the gobstopper indicates more about his character than the fact that he broke a rule somewhere along the way. Realistically, do you expect anyone to be perfect? Does everyone have the constant will to hold a future reward over the curiosities, the temptations of the moment? It seems more that, when reviewing fiction, perfection is itself a vice when one looks critically at the plot (look at the backlash Rey Skywalker got for being, if not perfect, too close for comfort).

The ending scene shows what Charlie’s response to failure is, which can be more important than the fact of failure itself. I expect a lot of people would try to deny or downplay their failure or additional moral failings, argue that they should still earn their reward because everyone else was just worse, or say nothing but plan to get revenge on Wonka, already having been given the means via the everlasting gobstopper. Not Charlie. Being the “nice kid” doesn’t mean he’s resistant to all temptations, but he is resistant to wanting to put other people down, whether it be slandering his less favorable companions, or planning to “show him” with the gobstopper - in fact, he chose to put it on the table just so the later temptation did not have a chance.


that’s the issue. he’s too perfect. he has no flaws. a character needs those.


What a shocker

The answer is a lot less malicious than you make it out to be: basic filmmaking.

You write the film to end on an elevator ride into the sky and a helicopter shot of the surrounding village with one of the songs from the film playing over the credits. How do you get there? “Congratulations Charlie, you passed all the test and here are the keys”? No. Up to that point the film has been about grandiose displays of Wonka’s factory and the levels of tension and stress have been quite high in several places, all of which were intentional.

Why would you then go from a consistent up-and-down trip of high tension and dramatic acting to “Well Done, roll credits”? It doesn’t make sense and few directors could pull it off in a way that was by any means satisfactory.

So the fizzy lifting drink. The writing of Charlie’s choosing to do it is, admittedly, rather poor, as Charlie says “how about this” and his grandfather goes completely along with it with no objection whatsoever. It might’ve been more realistic to have his grandfather, excited about the concept of the drink, egg Charlie into slipping up. But I digress.

Now the final test. Wonka uses the instance to put Charlie in a very jeopardized position. He’s lost every hope of receiving the reward he’s dreamed about. If he pockets the gobstopper, it’s a guaranteed $500.00 from Slugworth and security for his family for the immediate future. He owes Wonka nothing. Will he hand it over, essentially rejecting Wonka’s gift and - him believing Wonka knew nothing about Slugworth’s offer - reject any possible temptation to fulfill the under-the-table deal?

It’s filmmaking. The hero’s journey. The penultimate challenge, encompassing Charlie’s own failure and a decision entirely the result of his own actions. Does he do the right thing?

I quote:

On the other side of the coin, you have the 2005 film, with numerous deviations from the book, rather unnerving portions of the film, practically none of the original’s charm, and a series of performances which can easily be described as laughable. You’re welcome to have your own opinion about the film, but the fact that you shun the original over a slight deviation in Charlie’s canonical flawlesness to make the movie more interesting is really giving your argument less credibility.

Did I say argument? I meant 17th monument of text that takes up more than my entire screen. I’ve been keeping count.

A Trekkie’s Trail knowingly set some excellent standards, but there’s one term that comes to mind from it that could describe a character with no flaws.


Eh…I can see some good points here, but…

The thing is, Charlie WAS a perfect kid in the book. He loved his family, and he wasn’t greedy or arrogant or bratty like the other kids. Not to mention he came from a really poor, deprived family. If anyone deserved to win the grand prize, it was him.

Rey was a little different. Yes, she was good at virtually everything without much in the way of training, but she still had a personality. She could be surprised, she could be excited, she could be discouraged, she could be happy, she could be sad. And, contrary to what many would have you believe, she does have a character arc. She starts out alone on Jakku, waiting for her parents to return and wanting to find out who they are. But over the course of the trilogy, she learns that her origins don’t have to define her, and she can choose what she wants to be.

But that’s getting off topic.

I didn’t say the movie had to end with Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Mr. Wonka riding the glass elevator (or “lift,” as it’s called in the book). If anything, this is another deviation from the book, which ended with Charlie going home to his family and giving them the big news.

Yeah, that would’ve been in character for Grandpa Joe.

Eh…it does sound better when you put it like that. But like I said, the book didn’t need any of this to show how good of a person Charlie is. It shows that, whereas the rest of the kids disobey Mr. Wonka’s instructions, Charlie follows all the rules. And by the end of it all, Mr. Wonka tells Charlie that from what he’s observed on the tour, Charlie has innate goodness that proves him worthy of inheriting the chocolate factory.

Now, you could raise the point that some movies/books/tv shows try to make a certain character look good by making everyone else even worst than said character. But early on in the book, and both movies, we see how good of a kid Charlie is well before the other kids come into play. And if you’re going to make Charlie break a rule like everyone else did, then he’s no better, in my mind.

Like I said, I do take issue with the way the ending is handled. But up till that point, everything else is a lot more true to the book than the original. Charlie is portrayed as a great person, the way he should be, and the songs are taken directly from the book.

This seems like kind of a nitpicky thing to say, but no less: the original movie discarded the whole squirrel thing with Veruca Salt and replaced it with geese that lay “good” or “bad” eggs. I actually don’t have an issue with that, because it was the 1970s, and with the technology they had back then, it would’ve been pretty difficult to pull off the squirrel scene from the book. But it was still nice to see that the 2005 movie actually did have the squirrel scene.

Because the book and 1971 movie were without their unnerving moments, of course.

Again: I don’t hate the movie. I do think it has a lot of good points. It’s just the way they ruined Charlie’s character that kills it for me.

Uh…you’ve actually been keeping count of the essays/theses that I post on here every once in a while? I don’t even know what to say to that (even I haven’t been keeping count!).

But if you take issue, then I can stop posting them.

The “You” wasn’t literally you. I was using “You” in place of the filmmaker/scripting team for the film. Conversational tool for illustration purposes.

And like I implied later, that’s a problem. Especially if you want to translate that to film; it doesn’t just waltz over completely unaltered and flow correctly.

Does it show any internal conflict? Any part of Charlie that at least considers the other side or the devil on his shoulder, so to speak? If not, then Charlie started out perfect.

Having a perfect, flawless, universally loved character is not wrong, but it is to have the character start that way. The only flaw with Charlie is that he’s financially struggling and as a result his life is hard. In this aspect, the film is pretty much the same in its portrayal, and the deviation from this - the slip-up leveraged against Charlie later on - does more for the character of Charlie than the entirety of the book.

A flawed character is better than a flawless one. A character is allowed to get perfect, but not to start that way, or if they do start that way, to be polluted later on, and either work to overcome that or let it destroy them. That’s interesting, and a flawless kid who overcomes every challenge with flying colors is not - especially in a film centered around said character.

Congratulations, you got the point the film was making.

Charlie is, was, and will be a fallible character in that film - in the 2005 film, too, if you look for it. in fact, he’s exactly like everyone else - a kid motivated by excitement and shenanigans rather than adult reasoning. Why does that make the story better?

Because Charlie proved he was better than them in spite of his failure. He met the same challenge as them and he failed - but it was his character that motivated him to do the morally responsible thing and not take any other avenue open to him. His grandfather was set on cashing in the gobstopper in furious zeal for being shunned unfairly by Wonka, but that didn’t stop Charlie from doing the right thing.

That’s a better character than the mary sue, the flawless, never-faltering wonder child from the book. It’s a better motivation, it’s better storytelling, and unlike the 2005 movie, you don’t have to jump through hurdles of new and irrelevant info just to compensate for Charlie being perfect.

If you don’t like that, that’s your taste. But you can’t reasonably say the movie did the character a disservice when it made the most logical alteration of Charlie’s journey for both the film and Charlie as a character.

And the execution was unnerving. I know several kids who had nightmares after watching that particular film and I can hardly blame them; nothing there was approached from a neutral light. It was like a Tim Burton film.



Yes, actually. They were.

Kids didn’t get nightmares watching Veruca Salt fall down a hole after throwing packages around. They also didn’t get nightmares from the sick burn from grandpa Joe directly after.

I’ve posted in about half and about a third of them have been closed. I’ve been keeping track.

It’s mostly that almost all of them are massive opinion pieces and highly argumentative, with a good amount of people commenting on how the opinion presented is incorrect. Like Hawkflight loosely implied, it’s what you’re known for at this point.

It’d be nice to see some variation.



I mean…yeah, he was really loyal to his family in that one, but I can see how that could be a bad thing. Loyal to a fault, if you will.

I mean, I guess I’m a bit of a purist in regards to movie adaptations of books. I know that there are always changes, but it doesn’t always go over well with me when they completely change something as major as this.

And not from that tunnel scene in the original?

Now I feel kinda compelled to go back and look at every topic I’ve created…

Often, the reason why I post these things is because I have an opinion that I want to get out there, or because I want to kind of explore a certain topic. But, again, if you don’t like the way I go about it, then I guess I can let up on it.

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Honestly him giving over the gobstobber proves him to be an even greater and moral character than the 2005 Charlie, IMO.

Are you forgetting the entirety of the boat ride from the 70’s film because that was nightmare inducing.


I would like to add that there’s no point in being a purist if the source material is flawed.


That isn’t what I mean… But honestly, I’m not about to begin defending any part of that movie outside of the end credits, so never mind.

Do me a favor and never watch the Bionicle films

Do me another favor and quickly compare it to the tunnel scene in the second film.

I only had nightmares because my brain transposed the second film’s scene over the first film in my memory. Rewatching it I was completely relieved.

Unfortunately I don’t personally know that many people who’ve watched the original film as a child (or any decent film outside of animated disney ones) so I can’t comment with knowledgeable info on that in particular why are my words are not making sense help I need my thesaurus pills

The greatest thing 2005 Charlie did was tell Johnny Depp his hair was stupid.


As a kid watching a chicken get beheaded in the background on the 70’s boatride scene was… Terrifying, to say the least.


…I don’t remember this


Oh Ghid.

Rewatch it. >:)

Time stamped just for you.


okay, um…

I now retract a slight amount of my earlier comments.


The difference between Rey and Charlie Lee is that Charlie Lee is just morally perfect – he always makes the right choices. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just tends to make for a less interesting character.

Rey, meanwhile, is skillfully perfect – good at everything without trying. This, too, is not inherently problematic, and it can be handled well… But the sequels don’t.

I don’t think making Charlie Lee morally greyer is a flaw, it just tells a different story. I’d argue that, while Charlie Lee being less perfect is a strength of the original, delving into Wonka’s character more is a strength of the new one; they both have their own strengths and are different takes on the same story, neither being inherently better or worse.

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i thought his last name was buckets


I got a different discussion than I was expecting when I clicked on this topic.

I was expecting the fundamental flaw to be not just with the 1971 movie, but with the story itself. Because there is a fundamental flaw (in fact, many, many, fundamental flaws) with the entire story. I think the reason that people have differing opinions around the two movies is that the book is one that sits in the “expertly hard/nigh impossible” tier in the movie-adaptability-feasability tierlist (SomeoneActuallyMakeThisPlease). Because, if I may be blunt, I don’t think it’s a good book. I’d go so far as to say it’s actively bad. :stuck_out_tongue:

So let me just throw that curveball into the conversation and quietly whistle as I observe the aftermath. :stuck_out_tongue:

where can i find thesaurus pills i think i need to know

Oh, what? I never noticed that before. I bet it’s like right in the distant background where it’s hard to notice and you can’t see it clearly…

watches video

Ah. I was mistaken.
Excuse me one moment while I- :face_vomiting:

probably proceeds to have nightmares tonight as an adult


you gotta go around back of denny’s at exactly 1:31 AM Hawaii time, spin around three times, look at wherever is the exact location of the northern star, and whisper “the film was better than the book” 17 times. then you’ll get arrested for disturbing the peace and taken to prison, and maybe in six months of community service you might find my dealer idk


Yet another good point. But, like I said before, I feel that the book’s storyline worked perfectly fine.

Yeah…it’s a bit too late for that. Sorry. :frowning:

What’s ironic is that the original movie is titled “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory,” yet its main focus is on Charlie. And the new movie is given the title “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,” but it focuses on Willy Wonka.

And I think I heard they’re developing a Wonka prequel.

…care to elaborate on that?

It’s fine that you feel that way, but you should understand that that isn’t an argument. If you can’t offer a counter, there isn’t much point in replying at all. Hopefully this doesn’t come off as mean. Its just that it’s lame to have a discourse with someone if they just resort to saying, “Well I feel differently.”