Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)

"Good"

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005) Review


For a guy who's earned a reputation for being one of the most original filmmakers on earth, Tim Burton has an awfully large fondness for remakes. And what a mixed bag they are: His hit Batman spawned a huge movie franchise, while his Planet of the Apes stands as one of the most widely trashed films in recent memory.

And so Burton takes a third stab at the remake game with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, an update/remake (call it what you want) of the beloved 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl's classic children's novel. But the stakes here are far greater than they were with Apes. That was a campy sci-fi movie that no one really cared about. In fact, the original Apes had long since killed itself under the weight of four increasingly awful sequels. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory frequently tops "Favorite Movie Ever" lists, and news of the remake has met with nothing but scorn from fans (including 1971 star Gene Wilder, who later retracted his scathing remarks).

And here comes Tim Burton, intent on screwing with the thing.

Anyone who's watched the original film 40 or 50 times will know the story well: A mysterious candy magnate invites five children who find Golden Tickets in his candy bars to an exclusive tour of his magical factory. Central to our story is Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), a dirt poor boy who lives down the street from the factory in a shack that, in the real world, would be condemned and turned into an office building under eminent domain rules. He's the only decent child in the bunch. The rest are monsters, including the obese glutton Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), uber-spoiled Brit kid Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), TV junkie Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry), and the driven, gum-chewing Village of the Damned-look-alike Violet Beauregarde (AnnaSophia Robb). Each comes in tow with a parent who does little or nothing to correct their awful behavior, which is on full display during the factory tour.

Obviously aware of the reputation of the original, Burton doesn't really even try to stay faithful to the first film. And sadly, wherever he branches off, his step falters. Fans will immediately see the biggest change on screen in star Johnny Depp, who departs radically from Wilder's vaguely cruel, sarcastic, quip-happy Wonka and turns him into a kind of man-boy with a squeaky voice. (I'm not sure what Depp was going for in this performance, but it ends up being one of his shallowest and least nuanced ever.) The Oompa Loompas are reimagined, too, with stuntman Deep Roy playing all of the parts (sans orange face paint).

Even more noteworthy are the wholly redone musical numbers: There are basically four of them, all performed by the Oompa Loompas, one delivered when each kid meets his sugary near-demise. Those hoping for a remake of Veruca Salt's "I Want the World" or those catchy "Oompa loompa oompa dee doo..." tunes will be disappointed. They've been replaced with grandiose ballads and rock operas, each of which is more incomprehensible than the last.

Burton also stretches the plot out to two grueling hours, wasting long passages on Wonka's backstory and youth, taking us on asides (to Loompaland, even), and convincing us what a Good Boy that Charlie really is. And the freaky makeup work on the children, which makes them look like smoothed-and-polished plastic dolls, is enough to give you nightmares.

The sets are strikingly similar to the original, but everything about Burton's movie is more polished, more produced, and simply less heartfelt. It's hard to adapt a work which is essentially a diatribe against gluttony, excess, poor parenting, and media overexposure when your end product is guilty of all of those things. Burton, forgive the pun, is like a kid in a candy store, tossing off too many lame jokes and dragging the movie on for far too long. His Charlie is full of spirit, but it's all empty calories.

The two-disc DVD features a number of featurettes (heavy on the film's impressive special effects) plus several set-top games inspired by the film.

Anyone seen Deliverance?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

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Producer: , Richard D. Zanuck

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