I liked the new ending. It wasn’t an improvement over the book’s ending, or over the ending to "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"*, both of which were good in their ways, too. But it was nice to see a new twist. It blended well with the rest of the film, even though it rather turned the spirit of the book on its head. Instead of showing us a desperate, needy Charlie being rescued by Wonka, the film portrays a Wonka who needs Charlie more than Charlie needs him.
I enjoyed seeing the "nut room": the squirrels were great. I never understood why the first film traded in the squirrel scene for birds. Maybe the producers thought "bad egg" was more fitting than “bad nut”.
One touch I especially liked in the new film was the use of the grandparents. In both the book and the first film, I felt as though the grandparent, with the exception of Grandpa Joe, were indistinguishable. In the new film, even though the grandparents aren’t onscreen for much longer, each of them is given a distinct character of their own.
My favorite scene is when the other grandfather – the cynical, pessimistic, practical one – tells Charlie not to sell his ticket. You can tell that no one – least of all Grandpa Joe – wants Charlie to sell the ticket. But it takes this man to articulate why: “Money is all over the place. They’re printing more of it every day. But there are only five of these tickets, and that’s all there ever will be. Only an idiot would give that up for mere money.”
Some things are more important than money.
That’s another thing that made me enjoy the new ending, because it proved the grandfather right: the family would be just fine without more money, even without Wonka’s intervention. And that’s a particularly poignant message, I think, and too easily neglected.
* That’s the title of the original movie starring Gene Wilder. I don’t know why – “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has better assonance, and Willy Wonka’s presence may be inferred from “the Chocolate Factory” anyway.