Sunday, July 24, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Starring Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, et al
Rated PG, 115 minutes

I was stuck in the middle as pertains to seeing this movie. Would people think lower of me for seeing it? Would it be as decent as the original? Would I hate Johnny Depp for no other reason then I’ve never seen anything he’s been in and hate his name?

There’s lots of good here though. The basic rundown is as follows: Charlie Bucket (Highmore) is a devout follower of candy king Willy Wonka (Depp). His family is poor and live in a rubble heap with half a roof in the middle of the city. A contest is announced where five lucky kids can win a tour of the Wonka factory by finding a golden ticket hidden in an ordinary Wonka chocolate bar. Only Charlie gets just one each year, on his birthday.

Naturally, he gets the ticket (eventually) and wackiness abounds. If you have passing familiarity with the story, namely from the 1971 movie, you know this is the meat. They did do a great job in livening up the pre-factory portion, though, with good casting and so forth. The modern take on the fabulous factory we saw in the 70s is great – nothing overblown, nothing too far from the “original”...just fine.

What helps the movie most is its dialogue I feel – easy enough for the kids to follow, funny and dark enough for the older set. If you’re like me and saw this movie to challenge it with the Gene Wilder-driven pic then I’d say it’s up there with its brother. The new version of the Oompa Loompa (played en masse digitally by “Deep Roy”) has its own hilarious charm, the new songs, while vastly different from their older counterparts, are fun, and all the scenes you remember from before are nicely done for the ‘00s. Everybody is well cast again, just like they were 30 odd years ago.

What’s bad? An unnecessary trip in the life of Willy Wonka, showing his father’s dislike for candy (he was a dentist, you see) and his eventual runaway to start the candy business. Plus, most notably, Depp’s portrayal of Willy Wonka. His tinny, high-pitched and shaky delivery of the lines was used to great comic effect at times. Every other second you wondered why Depp chose to watch tapes of Michael Jackson before stepping on the set.

So, out of the regular five, we give “Charlie” and company...


Would love to give it more, because it surprised me in spots – but the bad things just can’t be ignored.

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