Parents' Guide to

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

By Ed Grant, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Pure, sweet imagination for both kids and adults.

Movie G 1971 98 minutes
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 32 parent reviews

age 6+

Veruca Salt wants to teach you something

Great story, cinematography and pacing. I was specifically looking for a movie with unlikable children characters, so that my kids could see those traits in themselves and hopefully correct them. To hear my daughter say, “I do not like her…” about Veruca Salt was worth a hundred hours of me telling her not to behave that exact same way. Even Charlie is a little bit good and a little bit bad, as all humans are capable of being. Focusing only on the scary moments misses the message. They’re incredibly short (tunnel images) or essential to the plot (kids’ demise). For me, the main themes are that all the parents love and worry about their children, that corporations and powerful men are mostly not to be trusted, and that you should always read anything you sign! Better to experience those lessons from a movie, no? I totally agree with Common Sense’s take: imaginative, family fun. You and your children will surely learn something from the comically tragic pitfalls of others. This film will stand the test of time after the drivel of other family movies today are long forgotten.
age 3+


Spoilers: My 3.5 year old absolutely adores this film as do I! It has some wonderful songs, a great cast and is definitely a feel good film for all the family. It has a positive message which is to avoid gluttony, be well mannered and be honest. My daughter often references Verruca Salt being a naughty girl and rude to her daddy falling down the garbage shoot and Charlie being a good boy and being given the chocolate factory. Yes, there is a scary’ish scene with the boat, however the imagery in the background will go over a child’s head (as did it with me for 40 years) - I only just noticed the chicken and the snake. There’s nothing in this film to really pose a threat to kids and I’m extremely conscious of what my daughter views!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (32 ):
Kids say (119 ):

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.

Movie Details

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate