Charlie's Grandpa Joe is Really Scum

We were watching the old Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on DVD the other day.  This movie choice was made by the kids in anticipation of the new Johnny Depp version coming soon (since Pirates of the Caribbean, my kids are huge Johnny Depp fans).

I guess I really never paid much attention,  but Charlie's Grandpa Joe (played by Jack Albertson) is a real schmuck.  This little boy and his mother slave away for pitiful wages all day to support their four grandparents who are infirm and stuck in bed.  Grandpa Joe has laid in that bed for years, maybe decades, and never once tried to get out and help his family.  But, given the chance to go on a special trip to the Chocolate Factory with Charlie, Joe soon bounces out of bed and dances around the room.  Where was this energy when the family needed a wage-earner?

I don't know if this was intentional or not.  My guess is that this might not have been intentional - the early 1970's were the height of welfare sensibilities, and it would probably have been unlikely that Hollywood would try to include any messages about a slacker dad who failed to support his family.

Update:  By the way, in response to one of the comments, I am mostly just having fun with this.  I love Willie Wonka and am not so much of a Scrooge to turn on the movie because of an issue like this - heck, if I only enjoyed movies I was in complete ideological agreement with, I would have a very small movie collection. 

But, I do beg to differ with the commenter who said that Grandpa Joe provided the best adult supervision of all the parents.   This is actually not true, at least in the factory itself.  When each child pursued their fatal screw-up, in most cases their parents were trying to stop them, however lamely:  Augustus's mom says to stop drinking from the river, etc.  Charlie's Grandpa Joe actually was the one parent (or I guess guardian) who took an active role in encouraging their child into breaking their host's rules (i.e. drinking the fizzy lifting drink). 

I sit here thinking - jeez, am I really arguing about this?  I feel silly, but it does beat arguing about 30-year-old events in the military service of presidential candidates.


  1. markm:

    I've noticed that every time I watched the movie.

  2. Billy Budd:

    What a lazy bastard! It was my favorite book as a kid, I never caught the evil capitalist pig side of it till later. Grandpa, you low life freeloader.

  3. Mr. Bruce:

    Because it's one of the few movies that's relatively faithful to its source, I bristle at the condemnation of Grandpa Joe as a slacker. Please note that he's a responsible adult figure in the movie (certainly compared to the other parents).

    In addition, it's a musical--what, you want logic in a movie where people burst into song to explain their feelings?

  4. Joe:

    Poor Grandpa Joe... he forgets how to use his legs and then when the best thing that could ever happens to him happens and he remembers how to walk he just gets abused! Surely just the thought of seeing those little oompa-loompa's working their little socks off is enough to jog any old mans memory.

  5. Bex:

    well you have a point. my friend's grandad is in the new movie. he plays grandpa george

  6. Dave:

    He's even worse than you thought: