Thursday, July 14, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Director: Tim Burton)

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY has been nominated for Costume Design (Gabriella Pescucci)

Burton is another one of those guys whose resume is stacked with iconic films. My favorite of his is Ed Wood. Some might say Pee Wee's Big Adventure. You might even get Batman or Batman Returns. And yes, although he was heavily involved with A Nightmare Before Christmas, he did not direct it (that was Henry Selick). Then you have Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, which are both cult faves. My instant reaction to Tim Burton is that he usually makes films that are teeming with promise and don't deliver. The last one of those was Big Fish. Then there's Sleepy Hollow, which had some fun, but was not nearly as great as I imagined. Mars Attacks! has its fans, and there are enjoyable parts to it, but it's not quite a classic. Then there's easily Burton's worst film, The Planet of the Apes remake. I know there's a post long ago where I went over this before, but it's been long enough to make mention of them again.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the second film to be made from Roald Dahl's novel, the first coming in classic form (albeit a bomb at the box office) in 1971 as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where Gene Wilder played the title character, the title changed in order to advertise a new candy on the market. Screenplay is from John August, who collaborated with Burton on Big Fish. He also wrote Go and the two Charlie's Angels movies. This is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's 4th movie together.

It's easy to see how a story like this would appeal to Burton, considering his forte is the portrayal of the weird/eccentric, outsider/loner, as Willy Wonka is. And who better to portray this sort of character than the eccentric Johnny Depp, whose career is filled with oddballs? Bring along the excellent Freddie Highmore who got raves for his performance in Finding Neverland, and now we're talking a sweet updating of a movie that is already a classic to many! The problem is, this movie really, really had to be good to make you forget about the 1971 movie, in which Burton professes not to be a fan.

Willy Wonka (Depp) closed his giant candy factory years ago because some of his workers were stealing his ideas and the competition was running off with bestsellers. Now, after a quiet re-opening, he has placed a Golden Ticket within his Wonka Bars that will allow 5 lucky children to visit the mysterious factory. Of course, 4 of the children are spoiled brats, and 1 ends up being Charlie (Highmore). At the end of the tour, one of the children will receive a prize "beyond their wildest dreams."

Of course, the 4 brats get caught up in greediness and selfishness; just call it the mini-version of Seven. It's a nice, damning verdict on the upper class, and Wonka, who has a troubled past, is a little bit more than happy to see the pseudo-demise of these children and their parents. The dark humor comes from his inability to contain his glee that these kids are getting theirs, and assuring the parents in full-on nonsense mode that nothing is the matter. But then of course, all of that was covered in the 1971 version, with small differences.

Johnny Depp, always interesting to watch, is a great Wonka, but I still like Wilder's sublime performance over Depp's showier interpretation. The reason why Depp is always fun is that he spouts the text in an amusing way, and then there's the "secondary text" with Depp's facial mannerisms that he included in Pirates of the Caribbean, Ed Wood, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas so well. This movie is good. It is, in fact, enjoyable. But again, it's totally pointless, like most updatings or remakes.

Stealing the show: David Kelly as Charlie's tour guest Grandpa Joe, and David Morris (in his first film!) as Grandpa George, who spouts off in a funny curmudgeonly way. Helena Bonham Carter is in this as Charlie's mom, playing plain, even though she's much too beautiful to hide that. Noah Taylor (The Life Aquatic, Vanilla Sky) plays Charlie's dad. A Tennessee connection: Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest), who went to Germantown High School and plays the mother of Because of Winn-Dixie cutie Annasophia Robb. Also, little person Deep Roy plays every single Oompa Loompa, each of which can vary from amusing to scary throughout, as Danny Elfman provides his usual Burton score along with songs he sang himself.


At 7/14/2005 09:33:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Funny that you say it's "pointless", because I would agree and I haven't even seen it.

Last night, watching television with my roommate...we saw another trailer for this movie, and I said, "You know...this movie's taken so long to come out that I already don't care."

Then I launched into a thing about how much I'd rather see Depp do Jack Sparrow than another weird Burton film. Which is not to minimize how great I'm sure he is in this...and how fantastic he's been in Ed Wood and Scissorhands and such.

But there's something about it being a remake that makes me not care. No matter how different his take on Wonka is from Wilder''s still the second take on that character for us fans. Jack that was an incredibly fresh characterization...and a funny as hell one.

By the way, I remember reading an interview with Depp back when Pirates came out, where he said he based the character on Keith Richards combined with Pepe Le Peau. And that's hilarious enough as it is. But I just read yesterday that Keith Richards has signed to play Sparrow's father in the sequels their currently filming.


At 7/14/2005 11:59:00 AM, Blogger MaraJade said...

I agree. I would much rather see him as Jack Sparrow than picking up this role after I liked Wilder's version so much anyway.

That being said, I'm still going to run off and see it soon. But tomorrow night, some classics - The Devil's Own and Life as a House. (Okay, admitedly neither one is a classic per say, but I still totally have a craving for the former.)

At 7/14/2005 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Since I haven't had the time to go to movies lately, I guess I'll rant in the comments section. Planning a wedding and working 50 hours a week leaves little time for the theater right now.

I couldn't agree more with KW as far as my interest goes in seeing this. The original, along with "The Bad News Bears" (which is also getting a remake this Summer) are probably my two favorite family films ever. And the fact that Burton has spouted his negative view towards the original, I can't imagine liking this one any better than the original.

Burton, unlike many film fanatics out there, doesn't really do it for me. I do love "Ed Wood." After that, the only two I really can watch anymore with much interest are "Beetlejuice" and "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." Movies like the "Batman" films, "Edward Scissorhands," and "Sleepy Hollow" are noble attempts, but in the end failures in their own right. "Planet of the Apes" and "Mars Attacks" just flat out suck. His love of the underdogs and the outcasts is a very noble cause, but unfortunately he always seems to put all of his effort in developing those characters and the normal people are cardboard cutouts at best. Think "Planet of the Apes" when you actually hoped the apes would take over the world; who the hell cared about Mark Wahlberg and company?

Burton has the mind of a kid like many other directors out there, and that can be a good thing. But unlike other big kids like Speilberg and Tarantino, his imagination seems to be limited to one archetype and a lot of colorful sets. He's like a snobby rich kid who's only going to show you what he wants to show you and to hell with you if you want to see more. Kind of like the chocolate lover in "Willy Wonka" and like that unfortunate kid, Burton's movies tend to drown in a chocolate river.

At 7/14/2005 09:55:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

If you guys haven't already read it, you should really check out Harry Knowles review at "" I swear, this guy can't just love a movie he has to be fucking it or something. Anyone else remember the infamous "Blade II" review where he wrote something along the lines of Blade II is the pussy and Guillermo Del Toro is making us lick it. He is one messed up dude.

At 7/15/2005 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Aint it cool news has lost all credibility.

They gush over crappy movies all the time, and it's usually either made by a friend of thiers (Robert Rodriguez, who is actually working with Knowles on a film...can you say "conflict of interest?") or they're likely being paid to rave about it.

I honestly don't think anyone takes them seriously except for one thing...scoops. They still have snoops that give them juicy gossip...and that's the only shred of power they have left.

What's funnier to me than his gushing over any and every film is how horrible his writing is. He writes like a 5th grader...and a C student 5th grader at that. Spells words wrong, uses words wrong...and it's like no one ever taught him about thesis sentences and supporting paragraphs. He just rambles.

I pretty much hate that site, whereas 2 years ago I went there all the time.

At 7/15/2005 02:04:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

One thing I've come to expect from Harry Knowles is total complete idiocy for the sake of total complete idiocy. Yeah, that BLADE II review was like reading a Penthouse letter. Almost any geek-boy film that comes out gets an instant rave, and that includes his colleagues "Moriarty" and "Quint" and the like. I'm telling you, they should be downright ashamed to call LAND OF THE DEAD a masterpiece. I could just as easily substitute the word "HOUSE" for "LAND" and I'd feel the same way.

At 7/15/2005 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

The thing I don't mind about Moriarity, and he is the only reason I really still read the site, is that he is very honest with his opinion. The thing about reviewers whether it be Roger Ebert, or Chris, or me and KW is that we're just giving our opinion. The reviewers that piss me off are the ones that act like their reviews are the end all be all (aka Harry Knowles and the majority of the people that write on that site).

Moriarty for instance wrote a glowing review for "Daredevil" when it came out; that review was actually the only reason I saw the damn movie. I thought it pretty much sucked balls, but he wrote a very engaging and honest review of it, and he loved it; good for him.

However, when I read Harry, I feel like he's talking down to you. He acts like he's the only film expert. This is the dude that not only wrote that ridiculous review of "Blade II" (which Moriarty just recently made fun of and called creepy) but also said "Armageddon" made him cry. If it did, great, but when anyone made a comment about that, he basically said fuck off I know more than you. That's the kind of pompous bullshit I don't like.

I actually gave thumbs up to "Mindhunters," a movie I'm sure most of America isn't going to like. Does that mean I think everyone should like it? Hell no. But I'm going to tell you why I did, and if some of those reasons float your boat and make you go see it, good. If not, oh well, it's just my two cents. None of us are giving the definitive word on anything here. Which is one reason, I hope people like visiting the site and reading what we have to say. We're just some people who love movies, sports, TV, reading, etc. We are engrossed with pop culture, and this gives us an outlet to rant and rave about whatever we choose to. Blogging is definately a good thing.

At 7/17/2005 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Rusty said...

I went and saw this movie yesterday with my family. I really can't understand why people think this movie is an A rated movie. It was an enjoyable movie, but it just didn't hold up to the original. Maybe I'm just too old and liked the original. I think Johnny Depp did a good job as Willy Wonka, but it didn't hold up against Gene Wilder's Version. I didn't think their was enough excitement in the new version. It was kind of boring at times. I know this movie is alittle different, from the original, and it should be. The five children kind of bored me too. Charlie even bored me. I think the only redeeming thing in this movie was Johnny Depps acting. I'm just glad I didn't pay 10 bucks to see it at the Imax Theater. I just think some originals shouldn't be redone, this one shouldn't have been. Its like the new movie coming out called the Island. I saw the previews for that, and I'm watching the previews and I'm thinking "Hmm reminds me of a new version of Logan's Run" God I hope they don't do a remake of "North By Northwest" and have Tom Cruise do the Cary Grant part..


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