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2 Movies 1 Moment Battle: A Very Bad Kid


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

DirectorMel Stuart   StarsGene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum

Summary: Five incredibly lucky children, including Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) who is very sweet and kind but also very poor, find themselves in possession of the coveted Golden Ticket which grants them a tour of an amazing and mysterious chocolate factory by the enigmatic owner, Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder).



Problem Child (1990)

DirectorDennis Dugan  StarsMichael Oliver, John Ritter, Jack Warden

Summary: A young boy who spent his entire life going from house to house as his terrible behavior forces families to give him up, lands in the care of a mild-mannered sporting goods store employee who adopts Junior from a less than reputable agency and ends up with a wild child who is destructive, mean-spirited and a pen pal of an imprisoned serial killer.white

This Week’s Versus Moment: A Kid Behaving Very, Very Badly

Melissa Picks: Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

The Moment: The five children that have been granted access to the factory are Charlie, Mike Teavee (Paris Themmen), Violet Beauregard (Denise Nickerson), Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner)… and Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole) the worst and most misbehaved child to ever grace the silver screen. We know straight away that she is a rotten egg as she gets her father to find the Golden Ticket for her. When her father’s worker have been slaving from dawn until dusk for five days straight, Veruca screams in response, “Make ’em work nights!” When she finally does get the ticket, she continues to treat her father horribly; yelling at him and even resorting to physical violence. The moment that really does it though, is when they enter the Golden Egg Room. As soon as she walks in the door, she shrieks at her father that she wants him to buy her one of the golden egg-laying geese. When Willy Wonka confidently declares that they are not for sale, even after Mr. Salt has told him that he is willing to pay any price, Veruca breaks into song. She sings (or shrieks) “I want it now!” and goes about destroying the room, throwing things about and having a top tier tantrum, before stomping onto the Eggdicator which deems her to be a Bad Egg; a trap door opens beneath her feet and she is dropped into the furnace room. When her father asks where she has gone, Willy Wonka replies, “Where all the other bad eggs go, down the garbage chute.” Mr. Salt jumps down the chute to save his daughter and Willy Wonka calmly says, “There’ll be a lot of garbage today.”

Veruca Salt is the Winner Because: Veruca Salt embodies that bratty kid that we all know who we want nothing more than to slap in the face but don’t because of legal and social repercussions, not at all because of moral implications. We know that she is a brat, we know that her parents are the cause of the terrible behavior because they always let her have her way and they never set any rules but that doesn’t make us tolerate her behavior any more. As such, she has become a full-fledged brat. This is infinitely worse than Junior from Problem Child, who is merely an unfortunate result of his environment. He has been neglected and abandoned and is acting out because of it. He still has the opportunity to be redeemed and reveals his true colours at the end when he thinks that Ben is dead and he apologizes for all his misdeeds and tells Ben that he loves him. All is forgiven and Ben and Junior walk off together as loving father and son. Veruca, on the other hand, isn’t redeemable; she throws tantrums, she yells and screams, she is rude to others and finally she gets sent down the trash shoot. And we’re all glad! We are all saying, “Thank goodness! She was horrible!”  And she really is. She’s the most bratty, spoiled rotten, obnoxious child of all time.

David Picks: Junior from Problem Child

The Moment: Ben Healy is a kind man who is in a bad relationship with his wife and disrespected by his father, who owns a successful sporting goods shop but refuses to hand it down to his son because he doesn’t think Ben has the predatory instincts needed for business. Ben’s best friend is Roy, a “superdad” with five kids and one on the way, who belittles Ben at every turn, even though Ben just keeps taking it. Ben’s questionable decision to adopt Junior becomes obvious straight away as Junior is trouble almost from the moment he gets in his new house, but really demonstrates his misbehavior on a camping trip. Roy has a plan to scare the kids by dressing in a black bear costume and walking into camp. Junior overhears the plan and decides he’s going to turn it right on its ear. Stealing a piece of uncooked steak, he ties it to the end of a stick and finds a real black bear. He then lures it back to the camp and climbs a tree to watch the action as the kids scurry and Ben, thinking it’s Roy, pokes fun at it until he gets a little too close and the bear gives him a not so cuddly hug, sending him flying into the tents. The bear eventually wanders off just as Roy comes into camp in a bear suit that looks just like the real bear, so Ben attacks “it” with a frying pan, knocking out Roy, all the while as Junior watches from his hideout in a tree, laughing manically the entire time.

Junior is the Winner Because: Mel says that Junior is just a product of his environment but that’s not the case. From the moment he is picked up as a baby at the first doorstep he is left on, he pees right on the woman taking him in. Sure, at the end, when Junior thinks his adopted dad is dead, he seems to come around, even tossing his signature bow tie off a bridge as a sign of his redemption, but we only have to look at the next film to realize it was all a lie. The child is a natural born miscreant and only manipulates others to keep his victims off their guard. Veruca Salt, on the other hand, is just spoiled and gets whatever she wants because her parents can’t say no. She only causes harm to herself, holding her breath and whining about anything that she can’t have. Plus, she sings a song! Junior isn’t about getting material gain, he’s in it for personal satisfaction. A bad seed, he is willing to put lives in danger to satiate his compulsion for misbehavior. He’s unredeemable. At one point, Mr. Peabody (Gilbert Gottfried), the adoption agent as the orphanage where Junior has been returned 30 times, suggests to the Mother Superior that maybe all Junior needs is a little love, where upon the head nun, the very figure of compassion and unconditional love tells him to get rid of the kid or get new nuns. That is why Junior is the winner and the worst behaving child in movies.

Which One is the Winner?

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  1. vinnieh November 27, 2015
  2. Mel @ The Creative Fox Den December 1, 2015