Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (2017)

Rating:

USA. 2017.

Crew

Director/Producer – Spike Brandt, Screenplay – Gene Grillo, Based on the Novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Music – Michael Tavera, Animation – Digital Emation, Inc. (Supervising Directors – Sungwoo Lee & Taejoon Kim). Production Company – Turner Entertainment Co./Warner Bros. Animation

Cast

Lincoln Melcher (Charlie Bucket), J.P. Karliak (Willy Wonka), Jess Harnell (Grandpa Joe), Mick Wingert (Arthur Slugworth), Dallas Lovato (Violet Beauregarde), Rachel Butera (Augustus Gloop/Winkleman), Lauren Weisman (Mike Teevee), Emily O’Brien (Veruca Salt), Lori Alan (Mrs Teevee), Kate Higgins (Mrs Bucket), Audrey Wasilewski (Mrs Gloop), Kath Soucie (Tuffy)


Plot

Tom and Jerry are struggling to find enough to eat. Young Charlie Bucket shares a loaf of bread he has brought for his family with them. Charlie yearns for a Wonka Bar and so Tom and Jerry decide to pay his generosity back by conducting an elaborate scheme to steal a box of Wonka Bars from a nearby candy store. However, Charlie refuses the gift after he finds the bars have been stolen. At the same time, the notoriously reclusive Willy Wonka announces that he is opening his factory up for the first time in years. Five tickets have been placed inside Wonka Bars and the lucky five children who obtain the tickets will be granted the privilege to see inside the faactory. The four other tickets are found by spoiled and selfish children but then Charlie finds the fifth ticket. At the appointed hour, the children and their selected guardian are invited in the factory. Charlie chooses his Grandpa Joe to accompany him. After the ticket slips out of a hole in Joe’s coat pocket, Tom and Jerry race to put it back. They are then snuck in the back entrance of the factory with the aid of an Oompa Loompa. Inside, Charlie. Tom, Jerry and the others discover the marvels of Willy Wonka’s creations. However, the factory also holds horrible fates for the greedy and selfish.


Originally created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Tom and Jerry are respectively a cat and mouse duo of animated characters. The two appeared in a series of 114 theatrically-released shorts released between 1940 and 1958. The shorts always feature Tom chasing (but never catching) Jerry and the various ultra-violent methods by which Jerry retaliates. Subsequent to that, the characters were taken up by other animators and studios who produced more shorts and then tv series. These days the shorts are surrounded by a certain controversy. They are the most violent animated shorts ever made – they became the direct basis of the Itchy and Scratchy ultra-violent parody shorts on The Simpsons (1989– ), while aspects like the racial caricature of Manny Two Shoes has been cut from modern releases. They appeared in one theatrical feature film Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992), while Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the thirteenth of a series of Tom and Jerry films made for dvd release since 2002.

Here the filmmakers turn their attention to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Adapted from the Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), this has duly become considered a cult children’s film. The story was remade by Tim Burton as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), which seemed to miss everything that made its predecessor unique. This version is almost a direct remake of Willy Wonka (as opposed to the Dahl book) and recreates it fairly much beat for beat but for the addition of Tom and Jerry scenes. This even directly reuses the Leslie Bricusse songs from Willy Wonka.

The Tom and Jerry films of the last decade have inserted the two characters into other classical stories – The Wizard of Oz (1939), Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, The Nutcracker. When it comes to Willy Wonka, the only question is why. Go and view the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory again and ask what was it in there that needed to have the slapstick violence of Tom and Jerry inserted into it. Okay so maybe a viewing of the Tim Burton film makes you want to inflict violence on Burton and Johnny Depp but I think that is stretching a connection. But the truth is that Willy Wonka works perfectly well as a story without the need of Tom and Jerry. Their addition only seems an act of creative desperation.

The classic Tom and Jerry cartoons have a certain following but it is quite clear that the only audience for the modern ones is people in the young age set. Outside of that, the inanity of the action and constant slapstick violence is unappealing, even mean-spirited. And yet for it to work, the film also has to twist the characters of Tom and Jerry out of shape. Traditionally, they are nemeses; here though they have a change of heart and decide to help Charlie for his generosity in feeding them. However, even when they are allies on a caper together, Tom and Jerry are still engaged in a frenetic barrage of clonks, bashes, explosions, being flattened and run over that would kill any person if this were not the realm of cartoon physics.



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