Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Movie Poster Image

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Pure, sweet imagination for both kids and adults.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1971
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

May inspire kids to read the book the movie is based on.

Positive messages

Charlie is rewarded for honesty, and he learns that his dreams can come true. Various character flaws (greed, gluttony, and excessive television watching) are satirized.

Positive role models

Charlie is a wonderful role model, and he's rewarded for his honesty and positive behavior. He demonstrates empathy and integrity. The other children, who are clearly not good role models, are punished. Willy Wonka is unpredictable and mercurial, but ultimately he has his heart in the right place.

Violence & scariness

Four of the young leads impetuously leap into situations that at first seem fatal, but ultimately aren't. Charlie and Grandpa Joe are almost decimated by fan blades (they escape the situation in short order). Wonka takes everyone on a creepy pseudo-psychedelic boat ride.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that overall Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is an excellent, imaginative family film. While it doesn't have any content that would be considered inappropriate for kids, author Roald Dahl's signature dark humor is evident. There are a few scary/tense scenes that may disturb younger or more sensitive children. Slugworth is a creepy character (who turns out OK in the end). When Wonka takes the kids on a wild boat ride through a tunnel, some icky images appear and the kids on the boat are terrified. All of the ticket-winning kids end up in some kind of peril (some wind up in more dangerous situations than others), but they all turn out safe and sound in the end.

What's the story?

In WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, reclusive candy mogul Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) comes out of hiding to announce a contest: five golden tickets will be enclosed in candy bars to be sold throughout the world. Those finding the tickets will receive a lifetime supply of chocolate and a tour of his mysterious factory. Impoverished Charlie (Peter Ostrum) finds the fifth ticket, and visits the factory with his beloved Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson). The four other children, who tour the factory with Charlie, suffer colorful fates when their bratty instincts overcome them. Charlie finds himself as the only child remaining at the end of the tour. At first he's denied the grand prize, but when he passes a final test, Wonka rewards him with the biggest prize of all: the chocolate factory.

Is it any good?


Unlike the kind of children's movie that fizzles out, this film actually gets better as it goes along. Unfortunately, scripter Roald Dahl (adapting his book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) devotes nearly the first half of the film to the golden-ticket contest. Though containing a few choice moments (and the hit song "The Candy Man"), this section of the film pales in comparison to the second half, in which Wonka leads us through "a world of pure imagination." The eccentric inventor assumes center stage and the travelers are for the most part creepy, self-centered souls who learn by being punished, not rewarded.

The role of Wonka makes terrific use of Wilder's playfulness and manic energy. Though the film's candy-colored sets may seem a bit primitive when compared to today's computer-generated special effects, it does indeed stand the test of time. Preschoolers will be dazzled by the film's bright color-scheme and broadly-drawn characters but may be frightened by a few scary moments; 5-to 8-year-olds will comprehend the film's message, and respond to the memorable songs and snappy dialogue, but older kids and preteens are this film's ideal audience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different kids' choices as they go along on the tour in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What would you do if you were one of the kids? When has being honest been rewarded for you?

  • Compare this version to the more recent Johnny Depp version. Which do you prefer, and why?

  • How does Charlie demonstrate empathy and integrity in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 30, 1971
DVD/Streaming release date:August 28, 2001
Cast:Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum
Director:Mel Stuart
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Misfits and underdogs
Character strengths:Empathy, Integrity
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Adult Written byLady Marmalade October 31, 2009

A real winner

Although; the plot deviates from the book towards the end- which my daughter (17) didn't like; and there was scene with a boat ride that was much too scay for my son(5), overall the movie was very enjoyable. It's one of the only ones we can watch together as a family.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 1, 4, 8, and 10 year old Written bysweets_JME April 11, 2010

A great classic for the family and WAY better than the newer Charlie & The Chocolate Factory!

I think it is a bit scary at parts for the preschool age, but not more than any other fairy tale. I don't allow my kids to use words like dumb, stupid, idiot, fat or other derogatory comments & this movie had a few, but the overall message outweighs any language concerns
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byA critical thinker March 28, 2012

Creepy and brilliant

I think it requires abstract thinking and historical perspective to enjoy. I hadn't seen it since the 70's, and watched it to see if I could show it to my kids. Not till 8. Probably the little ones would be fine, it's not near as violent as Disney, but I doubt they'd enjoy it.
What other families should know
Great messages