A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
May inspire kids to read the book the movie is based on.
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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Charlie discusses wanting to buy tobacco for Grandpa Joe. Willy Wonka smokes a cigar. Oompa Loompas reference smoking in one of their songs.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.