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An animated re-telling of the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in which Tom and Jerry help Charlie Bucket attain a Golden Ticket and secretly accompany him into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory to prevent one of Wonka's competitors from stealing a special candy known as the Everlasting Gobstopper, but also experience the wonderful world of the chocolate factory with the guide of Tuffy, an oompa-loompa mouse.Written by
Diego "Scoutart" Gleeson
Saw 'Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' for two primary reasons. One being my love for Tom and Jerry.
Have vivid and fond memories of seeing all of their cartoons, with the classic ones (the Hanna Barbera years, the best of which among the best cartoons ever made, Chuck Jones' output was a mixed bag and most of Gene Deitch's were abominations and disgraces to cartoondom) being watched over and over, at my sister's late godfather's house at the age of six and have been a huge fan since. While not as good, most of their films have a lot of enjoyable elements and are not bad films at all.
Also to this day still have a lot of fondness for 1971's 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory', which as you can tell this film is very strongly indebted to. Sure "Cheer Up Charlie" is the mother of musical-numbers-that-slow-the-film-down and Peter Ostrum couldn't sing to save his life. However the rest of the songs are very good to timeless, the production values are deliciously colourful (especially when in the factory), it's entertaining, it's charming, Jack Albertson is a delight, the oompa loompas are scene stealing characters, the weirdly trippy and deliciously dark boat ride still dazzles and terrifies and Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka (and his iconic introduction) is a performance for the ages. Just to say, didn't care hugely for Tim Burton's version though it had its merits. Really did question the point of this film but with all the above considered, plus most of Tom and Jerry's other crossovers were surprisingly good, part of me was intrigued and hopeful.
'Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory', as feared, was a disappointment and is not one of the better Tom and Jerry films. If anything, to me, along with 'Tom and Jerry: The Movie' and especially 'The Fast and the Furry', it's one of the lesser efforts. Also had mixed views on 'Spy Quest'.
Does 'Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' have pros? Of course. The songs are still great, with the only one coming over as strange in arrangement and staging being "I Want It Now". The zesty "I Have a Golden Ticket" and the beautifully touching "Pure Imagination" particularly come off well. Some of the classic scenes are re-created surprisingly well, particularly the boat ride, which is both wondrous and frighteningly surreal, Willy Wonka's introduction and "I Have a Golden Ticket". Some of the dialogue sparkles and there is the odd amusing moment.
Some of the backgrounds are colourful and imaginative, especially once we get inside the factory, creating that feeling of affectionate nostalgia that one wishes translated into the storytelling. A few of the vocal performances are decent, the highlight being Jess Harnell's note perfect Grandpa Joe. JP Karliak's warmly twinkling and mysteriously enigmatic Willy Wonka is a close second.
However, there are a larger number of cons. Despite being close to personality and drawn well, Tom and Jerry themselves feel shoe-horned in in a story that is not a natural fit for them and most of the time (apart from bringing the golden ticket after being forgotten) they are pointless. Their shenanigans are overused, often distracting from the musical numbers, and little more than filler that pad out time in favour of other memorable parts omitted or toned down. The material is very bland and repetitive, due to a lack of sharp timing and having no originality or freshness. In their 'Wizard of Oz' and 'Sherlock Holmes' outings they served more of a point, added more to the stories, their comedy was funnier and better placed and there was a better mix of old and new, showing fidelity but having enough to set them apart.
Being faithful can be a blessing, the case of 'Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' it was something of a curse. The film suffered from being too faithful and being too closely indebted, and even with the addition of Tom and Jerry and other cartoon characters it added very little new. The only noteworthy fresh touches were the expansion of Slugworth's role (the subplot didn't always make sense but the character was interesting) and Veruca's father growing a backbone and actually scolding her.
Often the human character designs were horrible. The drawing is scrappy and static and the eyes and expressions look dead and with little warmth or joy, almost creepy at times. This is particularly in the case of Slugworth and most of the children. The rest of the voice acting is not particularly good, with the lifeless Charlie of Licoln Melcher and the excruciatingly irritating interpretations of Veruca and Mike from Emily O Brien and Lauren Weisman (meant to be brats but taken too far, the characters are insufferable here) being dishonourable mentions. It's all a mix of hyperactive, with rushed line delivery, and disengaged, some of it done in a monotone. Charlie's mother and the rest of his grandparents are utterly wasted, and excepting Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka the characters lack their spark. Before one forgets great characters like Droopy and Spike are misused and add nothing and Tuffy is annoying and not just by a little (a talented voice actress like Kath Soucie deserved better).
On top of that the story generates very little warmth, heart, charm or imagination, tending too to be too rushed and hyperactive. Anybody wanting the nostalgia factor are best watching the 1971 film which is full of it whereas too much of this feels like a cheap carbon copy with differences that add little or distract. Instead, one is yearning for fresher material to stop the sense of complete pointlessness but it very rarely comes.
In conclusion, has moments but a purely unimaginative confection. Tom and Jerry and Willy Wonka deserved better. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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