Desperate mom sneaks to Wonka

My kids wanted to be Wonka-cized.

For some reason, both of them wanted to see the latest Willy Wonka incarnation, directed by Tim Burton and starring the oh-so-cute-but-a-little-bit-weird Johnny Depp. Beyond the fact that my daughter is convinced that Johnny Depp is a girl, I had my reservations about taking them to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

However, I wanted to see the new movie, and I hoped that maybe, just maybe, my kids could handle it. Because when one goes to see a kids' movie, one should really have a kid with her.

To test my children's freak-out factor, I bought a copy of the original movie and introduced my kids to the wonderful world of Wonka.

They didn't appreciate the lickable wallpaper. They were unimpressed by the river of chocolate. But they didn't get nervous until the Golden Ticket winners boarded the boat made of candy. As soon as Gene Wilder began eerily singing, "There's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going...," my younger daughter gathered up her dolls and hightailed it to her bedroom.

My older daughter lasted a little bit longer, but when Violet blew up like a giant blueberry, my daughter's eyes got really big and she, too, fled the room. The poor kid has been avoiding blueberries ever since.

So there I sat, alone in the living room, stunned that the movie which had so enchanted me as a child had given my kids, if you'll pardon the pun, the willies.

Yet they were surprised when I told them I wouldn't allow them to see the Tim Burton version.

However, I never promised that I wouldn't go see it.

Late one night, while the kids and husband were sleeping, I sneaked out to the theater down the street and saw it by myself.

This time, as I watched the movie through the eyes of a parent, I began to wonder what Roald Dahl had been thinking - or, perhaps, ingesting - when he wrote the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." The fact his repertoire of books also includes "James and the Giant Peach," makes one wonder if the author perhaps imbibed in a mind-altering substance or two.

I searched the Internet for information to support my theory, but there was none. Apparently, Dahl just had a really, really good imagination. His children's books were based on the bedtime stories he made up for his own children.

And here's an odd little fact: Chocolate guru Milton Hershey was born Sept. 13, 1857. Roald Dahl, who loved chocolate, was born on Hershey's 59th birthday.

Another fact: Dahl did not like the 1971 movie based on his book. In fact, according to Wonka Facts! http://www.borg.com/~superman/, Dahl hated the movie so much that writer David Seltzer had to step in and write about 30 to 40 percent of the script.

Perhaps the director should have followed Roald's gut instinct, because the movie was initially a flop. (Although it eventually became a cult classic.)

And here's a fun fact about a cut scene in the first movie: While the entire world was searching for the Golden Tickets, a mountain climber looking for enlightenment reached a guru at the top of the mountain, and asked, "What is the meaning of life?" The guru asked for a Wonka bar, and the climber gave it to him. When the guru opened the bar, and didn't find a ticket, he said, "Life is a disappointment."

During an early screening of the movie, nobody laughed at this scene. A psychologist explained that the audience didn't laugh because for many, life is a disappointment. The scene was cut from the final edit.

It's true that sometimes life is disappointing. But when life gives us lemons, skip the lemonade and go straight for the chocolate. After all, millions of Wonka fans can't be wrong.

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