A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is an animated musical movie in which Tom and Jerry, the perennial cartoon adversaries, function as sidekicks. Unlike some of the Tom and Jerry spoofs, in which the cat and mouse assume the identity of and parody well-known characters, this film has them befriending Charlie Bucket, the young hero of Roald Dahl's classic book, and trying to help him in his quest for a visit to the miraculous chocolate factory. The movie closely follows the traditional Willy Wonka story about the eccentric candy maker and the search for his golden tickets. And it includes many of the beloved songs from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the Gene Wilder theatrical adaptation from 1971. Tom and Jerry treat fans to their usual slapstick antics -- they're smashed, bonked, flattened, and constantly chasing or being chased by Spike as they hang out with Charlie and root for him. OK for kids who are comfortable with farcical cartoon violence, cats who lick their chops at the thought of a cute mouse dinner, and animation companies who capitalize on well-known material from other sources to reach their audience.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tom must stop chasing Jerry long enough to help young Charlie Bucket (voiced by Lincoln Melcher) as he tries to make his dreams come true in TOM AND JERRY: WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Charlie, whose family (including four grandparents and a hard-working single mom) is barely getting by, longs for a delicious chocolate Wonka bar but doesn't have the means to buy one. When Willy Wonka (J.K. Kaliak) offers a visit to his candy factory to five lucky kids who find a golden ticket in their candy bar, Charlie is ecstatic. Tom and Jerry pull out all the stops, even a few illegal pranks, to help the boy find a ticket. But Charlie, honest to the core, refuses to go along. Miraculously, Charlie does get one of the tickets. The trip, with his beloved Grandpa Joe (Jess Harnell) accompanying him, is as magical as advertised. The day is a whirlwind of candy riches spent with some very peculiar other young golden ticket-holders, a mustache-twirling villain who's out to steal Wonka's secret recipe, and most radically magical of all, Willy Wonka himself.
Is it any good?
With multiple instances of typical slapstick action that's barely related to the classic story, Tom and Jerry play second fiddle to Roald Dahl's original characters in this animated adaptation. Plugging Tom and Jerry into an existing popular tale isn't a new concept, but when their function is so incidental, it shouts "marketing strategy" from the cartoon rooftops of Wonkaland. Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a competent production and it's enjoyable. Song favorites from the earlier movie like "Candy Man" and "Pure Imagination" get full animated, musical productions. And, the Oompa Loompas are back, as mice. But do a few extraneous farcical chases and smashes into brick walls and garbage cans make it worth watching when the original movie is available? Probably not.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the cartoon violence in Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Why is it funny to watch cartoon characters get flattened, shot out of cannons, and smashed into new shapes and sizes? Do you remember how old you were when you realized that slapstick violence wasn't real? Why is it important to be sure kids can distinguish real from pretend before they watch a movie like this one?
How do filmmakers help insure financial success by repeatedly creating films based on older ones (i.e., sequels, remakes)? Why is it harder to sell a new idea or story than one that is already familiar? Do you and your family look forward to concepts and characters that you've seen before?
What character traits made Charlie Bucket a hero in this movie? Was he willing to behave badly to reach a goal? Why is it so much more satisfying to earn a reward honestly than through cutting corners or cheating? How does this relate to your efforts in school? In day-to-day life? Find some examples.
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