This week, Spike Jonze's long-awaited adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are finally arrives in theaters, rewarding us for years and years of devoted attention to the production's twists and turns. But as exciting as the saga of its making has been, we've been bummed out that there are so few stopgap releases offering a similar kind of creepy, beautiful melancholy for kid audiences (and especially, audiences that are kids at heart).
Then again, looking back at the legacy of so-called family films that truly offer something transgressive, much less a little bit trippy, there aren't a whole lot of titles that come to mind as consummate entries in that rewarding, rarified canon. All of which brings us to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. No, not Tim Burton's 2005 film about a dentist's son who overcomes his obsession with Michael Jackson impersonation with the help of an adorable street urchin; the 1971 Mel Stuart film that turned the stuff of kids' dreams into a palpable reality, while offering a few future nightmares along the way.
Whether by accident or design, Warner Home Video released Willy Wonka on Blu-ray last week as a home-video supplement to Wild Things, and both because of our affection for borderline-creepy kid stories and of course our appetite for all things high definition, Stuart's film is the subject of this week's "Shelf Life."