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July 28, 2005

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory": Willy weird

by Eve Gleichman, Online Editor-in-Chief
It takes serious guts to take something as imaginative as a Roald Dahl classic, and turn it into a motion picture. It is especially brave to take on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," arguably the most whimsical of Dahl's works, in an endeavor to match the boundless imaginations of children and adults who have read the book. The first brave soul to tackle the feat was Mel Stuart, director of the 1971 film, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." With his mysterious and eccentric Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) and equally agreeable Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe (Peter Ostrum and Jack Albertson, respectively), Stuart was able to produce a masterpiece still widely appreciated today. "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" stayed true to Dahl's details, and succeeded in capturing the novel's idiosyncratic nature.
Tim Burton's remake of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is much darker and more bizarre than the original.
Tim Burton's remake of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is much darker and more bizarre than the original.

Perhaps this was the missing piece in Tim Burton's film, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," a remake of the original. In an effort to update the characters and storyline further, Burton directed a film much darker and weirder than the book and movie preceding it, overdoing parts which would be better left as they were originally.

Johnny Depp plays the new Willy Wonka, a whacked-out and thoroughly peculiar chocolate factory owner who invites five children at random to visit his factory. The factory has been closed for many years, as Wonka found recipe-stealing chocolate workers inside his establishment. Now, he needs someone with great imagination and high spirits to continue to run the factory one of the five children. Our main man is Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), a boy who remains magnanimous even under his humble circumstances. Charlie's wildest dreams are realized when he finds a golden ticket in a "Wonka Bar" he buys an invitation to visit Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with four other lucky children from around the world.

Instantly, the factory gives off an irksome essence when an eerie mechanical puppet show ends in flames, and Wonka emerges with an absurd outfit behind the awestruck children. But under the tight purple gloves and enormous goggles stands a Wonka who in this rendition has gone overboard with the role. Dahl was specific in his description of Wonka, and it certainly was not a young effeminate man with creepily straight teeth and a painfully girlish haircut. Depp's exaggerated character is overdone throughout the film, and way too much emphasis is put upon Wonka's past. Part of Wonka's charm in Dahl's writing is the mystery behind the unusual man, and how he came to be so quirky. Here, the ambiguity is crushed under the ridiculous premise of Wonka's evil dentist-father and lack of family connections. Depp seems to force his weirdness with each line, completely missing the subtly strange quips so memorable in Stuart's version.

The gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), television-crazed Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry), and spoiled Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) stay true to Stuart's interpretation, finishing themselves off one by one in the factory through their hopeless flaws. Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), the gum-chewing addict, has a much-needed changeup in character in the film, as Burton adds an exceedingly competitive side to both Violet and her Botox-injected mother. The unplanned departures of these four children are comical, even an improvement upon Stuart's direction that is, until the frightening Oompa Loompas (Deep Roy) arrive to dance and sing gleefully when the children disappear.

The film is solid; it has a beginning, end, problem and solution. There are hilarious lines, and unique characters. It certainly isn't a boring chunk of time; in fact, it's quite enjoyable. But the line must be drawn somewhere when considering the movie's overall feel. Surely Roald Dahl would not be pleased that Willy Wonka's past is given away, or that his ingenious "half-room" is replaced by heinous haircuts and hikes to Dr. Wonka's dentistry. It is the clever delicacy present in Stuart's design that is so lacking in Burton's.

Expect to be entertained and satisfied with this flick, but do not anticipate the subtle peculiarities that made the first interpretation so memorable.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (115 minutes) is rated PG for quirky situations, action and mild language.



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  • . on July 28, 2005 at 11:39 PM
    sort of a wishy-washy inconclusive review, and awkward at times.
  • Kathleen Nolan (View Email) on July 29, 2005 at 8:04 AM
    I think you need to re-read the book, and research your subject matter better! Felicity Dahl,Roald's widow totally backed this film. She said Roald hated the first film because it deviated so much from his original work. She has seen this film and said her husband would have loved it. His son, Theo, to whom the book is dedicated, also said the film was wonderful and that his father would have been pleased.
  • Blair '05 (View Email) on July 29, 2005 at 8:50 AM
    This movie came out a while ago, why is the review just now going up?

    Silver Chips, u should be slapped
  • jeg on July 29, 2005 at 1:44 PM
    ummm yah...this movie is old. I want to see reviews for "high Sky" or at least "The Island." Weird, it took you guys so long to write this.
  • John on July 29, 2005 at 3:26 PM
    The original stayed true to Dahl's details? You definitely need to read the book again, and then watch the original movie. The movie is much more light-hearted than Dahl intended his book tobe.
  • you can tell theres a new chip on July 29, 2005 at 9:42 PM
    ...the article looks like an advertisment for Roget's Thesaurus.
  • sweet on July 30, 2005 at 12:19 AM
    good article.

    i totally agree.
    the film wasnt bad, just really weird
  • island girl on August 2, 2005 at 3:49 AM
    excellent review
    quiet, jeg.
  • Another 05er on August 2, 2005 at 10:58 PM
    I have to say I agree with the reviewer in that the movie was exceedingly weird. I think that neither Stuart nor Burton were trying to create a movie to exactly replicate Dahl's book and if either of them where, they failed on so many levels. I think Burton just went over the top with making sure that his movie was not considered "just a copy" of Stuart's.
  • moo on August 3, 2005 at 8:06 PM
    geez you people. Do you people feel better about yourselves now that you've gone and trashed someone else's article?

    ---------

    Also Charlie was first published in 1964. I'm sure it seemed much weirder then. It could be that Burton wanted to recreate the "impact" of the book.

    and to Kathleen: Well, the studio has already sunk millions into this film, and the Dahl estate is probably getting a chunk of the gross, so how can Dahl's widow get away with saying anything BUT "I love the movie"?
  • tarp on August 4, 2005 at 11:02 AM
    if you disagree with the reviewer, that's not necessarily trashing the article, it's putting your opinion out there. which is kinda what these comments are for
  • just curious on August 5, 2005 at 1:14 AM
    How come all these reviews have to have some sort of pun in the title? I realize this is pretty common in other newspapers too, like the Washington Post, but sometimes they're too much of a stretch and are kind of distracting.
  • willy off on August 5, 2005 at 11:53 AM
    is it just me or does willy wonka look a little too much like Michael jackson?
    haven't seen the movie tho
  • Matthew Bennett on August 7, 2005 at 4:39 PM
    I love the Oompa Loompa Songs.I think there great.
  • 07 on August 14, 2005 at 5:11 PM
    charlie and the chocolate factory was great. the book was intended to be weird and outragious and therefore tim burton wanted to the movie to have the same effect. the article was very well written except it seemed eve could not make up her mind on. i happen to disagree with it because the movie did not follow the exact story line of the book which made it interesting. if it would have been the same then anybody who has read the book would have known what was going to happen and easily lost interest. in most book turn movies the director changes things up to keep things interesting. for burton he was directing movie that was a book and already a movie so he needed to add his own spice to keep viewers interested. johnny depp captured the essence of willy wonka perfectly and i think the movie was fantastic everyone should go out and see it!!!
  • bored 06er on August 18, 2005 at 2:08 PM
    ummm...i actually think this review was a really good one...especially for a new chipper. i completely agree with everything she said. ummm...to Matthew Bennet: ew...I didn't like the oompas in this movie...the originals were so much better...and less pop-culturey...and less computer animated (the same friggin person was just copied like a bagillion times! ERGH!) to 07: most people who are lovers of books (at least ones that I know, including myself) are generally thoroughly disappointed in movie remakes of novels because of the things that were changed. Instead of making things interesting, they usually change the meaning or the feeling of the story being told. and thats a no-no :(
  • academy member on August 22, 2005 at 8:30 AM
    If this movie doesn't win the Oscar for best picture, it is an indication of the decline of Western civilization.
  • Null Void on August 26, 2005 at 9:12 AM
    I have one question for the chipper who wrote this article: Did you actually read the book? If you had even read the book, you would know that "Willie Wonka" wasn't even close to the book, that "Charlie" was considerably closer to the book. Notoriously, Dahl hated the way that Gene Wilder portrayed Wonka, and his family (as a previous reviewer stated) has fully supported the new movie.

    Okay, I lied, I have another question. Did you have a thesaurus open the entire time you wrote your review? Because that's what it seems like and I mean that in a bad way. Half of those words don't fit the context, the other half just are horendeous words to describe the movie.

    Overall, I wonder how this is the authors 6th or 7th story, which is a thoroughly horrible interpretation of a semi-decent movie, and how other staff writers haven't had a single story posted. Chips has seriously lowered their standards by posting articles like this one on line.
  • asdfghjkl; on August 28, 2005 at 6:51 PM
    i think this review is well written and i'm impressed considering i know for a fact that the author didn't use a thesaurus once. as for the movie i thought it was both good and bad and it is hard to compete with the infamous original. and in response to some of the other (and very harsh) comments, i don't understand why you care so much and spend your time trying to tear people apart.
  • 08 reader on August 31, 2005 at 4:18 PM
    I agree with this review. Willy Wonka was scary and over the top. Plus actually it wasn't really like the book, with that weird bad ending. I thought this was a really good review, well done.
  • 08...too... on September 4, 2005 at 3:28 PM
    yeah, um, what's with dissing the reviewer? get a life, people. anyway, this was movie rocked my sox! (as did academy member's post.) I think the interpretation was great. I loved the book, and I loved the movie...I don't think people should get too caught up on whether a new piece of art matches the old one. Johnny Depp created a fantastic new character, and was fascinating to watch.
    and, to anyone who's seen Big Fish by Tim Burton, the botox mother and the oompa loompa were also in that movie! mwahahha! ok, ill stop now....review sky high!
  • eh? on September 5, 2005 at 5:13 PM
    your sesquipedalian writing is rather obnoxious, and it simply patronizes the reader.

    Stopp trieing to maik us feal stoopid.
  • alastair (View Email) on September 20, 2005 at 4:22 AM
    I think that the Chocolate Factory reveals the Fabian Society's blue print for the new world order. Watch Closely. Was Dahl a Fabian?
  • Justine (View Email) on January 16, 2006 at 6:35 PM
    OMFG!!!!!!! Johnny Depp is the hottest actor alive!!!!!!!!!!! hell Ya!!!
    Love ya Johnny!!!
    ~Justine
  • Bubba Chris (View Email) on April 3, 2010 at 12:47 PM
    FACE YOU ALL!! The old movie was THE BEST Willy Wonka movie ever. It was the original, come on people... Like Gene Wilder once said, "it was a good movie, the new one is made to make money, why else would they remake a CLASIC!!!! " like the guy siad it and he is old now and wise... so yeah.... Gene Wilder out ranks Johnny Depp and his followers... for reall.... not joking.... Also this article was well writen and very nicely explained, that the old movie was a wonderful memorible, experience, with REAL crazy not modern day face... like the new one processes it WAY too much and if thats funny to you then you can just suck it...
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