Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a direct-to-video animated film starring JP Karliak, Jess Harnell, Lincoln Melcher, Mick Wingert, Spike Brandt and Kath Soucie as well as the iconic slpastick duo, Tom and Jerry. Taking place in an undisclosed place or time, this film is a family friendly comedy with slapstick and some meta humor to boot.
The plot is, as the title implies, a retelling of the 1971 classic musical, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on the children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This time around, however, Tom and Jerry are integrated into the plot to provide their usual slapstick. And as a bonus, the character of Nibbles plays the Oompa Loompa intern, Tuffy (voiced by Kath Soucie) and the character of Arthur Slugworth, a minor character in the original film and novel, is now this over the top, greedy villain (voiced by Mick Wingert) with the character of Spike (voiced by Spike Brandt) as his lacky. The film starts out with Tom and Jerry doing their usual slapstick, when they meet Charlie Bucket (voice by Lincoln Melcher), a young boy living in a poor family consisting of his single Mom, his Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina, Grandma Josephine, and Grandpa Joe (voice by Jess Harnell). When its announced that 5 golden tickets are hidden in Wonka bars, the whole world goes bananas but only 5 kids and their parents were lucky enough to find them: Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teevee and Charile himself. In the midsts of this though, the devious Arthur Slugworth is plotting to infiltrate Wonka’s factory and steal a recipe that would ruin Wonka forever. Now its up to Tom, Jerry and their new friend, Tuffy, to stop him and save the factory.
The most glaring problem with this film is that Tom and Jerry are just shoehorned into the plot, adding nothing of importance to the story. Their slapstick, while much appreciated, just feels out of place here. It also doesn’t help that everytime there’s a musical number, we cut to Tom and Jerry goofing around as the song is playing. It comes across as distracting and I’m inclined to believe the filmmakers (director and co-producer Spike Brandt, and producers Tony Cervone and Sam Register) think kids would get bored with the film if Tom and Jerry aren’t beating the tar out of each other every 2 minutes.
Another major problem with the film is the acting. Jess Harnell and Kath Soucie do the best they can with what they’re give, but the problem is no one else does a good job conveying emotion in delievering their lines. Lincoln Melcher, for example, just sounds bored when voicing Charlie, especially when he’s delivering iconic lines such as “Mr. Wonka, [the factory] is the most wonderful place in the whole wide world.” Then there’s the other actors, who sound equally disinterested in the script. Lines such as “It’s mine! I finally have the golden ticket!” and “I’ve got a blueberry for a daughter!” are ruined by boring delieveries. The worst offender is JP Karliak as Willy Wonka. While no one can every hold a candle to the late Gene Wilder, Karliak’s performances isn’t even on par with Johnny Depp’s from the 2005 adaptation of the book. He sounds too calm and collective, devoiding the character of his estatic and charsimatic nature. He comes across as a shallow imitation of Willy Wonka rather than an actual character in his own right.
It should be noted that the animation is terrible, at least on the human characters. Tom, Jerry and Tuffy look fine, but the human character designs just look unsettling and grotesque. Clearly they were basing the designs off of the actors from the 1971 film, but they come across as badly traced over drawings of the actors, as opposed to characters that would fit in a world with Tom and Jerry.
This cheap direct-to-video film is just another cash in on the Tom and Jerry brand, which has been tarnished since Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz in 2011 (one might argue even before that). The slapstick is forced, the over the top villain is out of place, the animation on the humans is terrible and the acting (save for the professionals) is just bland and lazy. My recommendation is that you skip this and watch the 1971 original. Or if you’re not a fan of that, watch the 2005 film with Johnny Depp. Otherwise, just read the book. But what every you do, don’t watch Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.