Most nights in the Bucket home, dinner is a watered-down bowl of cabbage soup, which young Charlie gladly shares with his mother (Helena Bonham Carter) and father (Noah Taylor) and both pairs of grandparents. Theirs is a tiny, tumbledown, drafty old house but it is filled with love. Every night, the last thing Charlie sees from his window is the great factory, and he drifts off to sleep dreaming about what might be inside.
For nearly fifteen years, no one has seen a single worker going in or coming out of the factory, or caught a glimpse of Willy Wonka himself, yet, mysteriously, great quantities of chocolate are still being made and shipped to shops all over the world.
One day Willy Wonka makes a momentous announcement. He will open his famous factory and reveal all of its secrets and magic to five lucky children who find golden tickets hidden inside five randomly selected Wonka chocolate bars.
Nothing would make Charlie's family happier than to see him win but the odds are very much against him as they can only afford to buy one chocolate bar a year, for his birthday.
Indeed, one by one, news breaks around the world about the children finding golden tickets and Charlie's hope grows dimmer. First there is gluttonous Augustus Gloop, who thinks of nothing but stuffing sweets into his mouth all day, followed by spoiled Veruca Salt, who throws fits if her father doesn't buy her everything she wants. Next comes Violet Beauregarde, a champion gum chewer who cares only for the trophies in her display case, and finally surly Mike Teavee, who's always showing off how much smarter he is than everyone else.
But then, something wonderful happens. Charlie finds some money on the snowy street and takes it to the nearest store for a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, thinking only of how hungry he is and how good it will taste. There, under the wrapper is a flash of gold. It's the last ticket. Charlie is going to the factory! His Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) is so excited by the news that he springs out of bed as if suddenly years younger, remembering a happier time when he used to work in the factory, before Willy Wonka closed its gates to the town forever. The family decides that Grandpa Joe should be the one to accompany Charlie on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.