Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelley, Helena Bonham Carter, Deep Roy, and a bunch of other kids.
Now here’s a fond memory of my childhood. My sister became a total geek for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she was a kid. It was her favourite book and she read it cover to cover many times. She eventually talked me into reading it, and I liked it. I saw the original film (1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and thought it was a little…weird. Then, a new movie version. I always liked Tim Burton, and it would be an understatement to see what he’d do with the material.
Little Charlie Bucket (Highmore) is a very poor kid who lives in a crumbling house with his parents and grandparents. If there’s one thing he loves more than anything in the world, it’s Wonka chocolate. Naturally, when Willy Wonka announces that he’s planted 5 golden tickets in his Wonka bars to allow 5 children a tour of his top-secret chocolate factory, Charlie is caught up in the fever. He lucks out, gets a ticket, and he’s soon touring the factory with spoiled brat Veruca Salt, hyper-competitive Violet Beauregard, obese Augustus Gloop, and TV-addict Mike Teavee. Leading the tour, of course, is the very eccentric Willy Wonka (Depp). And what unfolds is Charlie’s odyssey to maturity, and Wonka’s shot at reconciliation with his father.
There’s one thing that really sticks out in my mind with this film: Johnny Depp sure acts weird. Now, I get his take on Willy Wonka: he’s a reclusive shut-in who’s forgotten how to interact with people. And, in that aspect, this film actually reminded me a lot of Edward Scissorhands. We’ve even got flashbacks where the father is played by a beloved horror movie star (Christopher Lee). And I’ll admit, the whole “origin of Wonka/reconciliation with his father” subplot that was created for the film really didn’t work for me. But there was a lot I did love: all the kids were spot-on prefect, the look was just fantastic, and Danny Elfman knocked it out of the park with the Oompa Loompa songs. All in all, it was actually pretty good.