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willywonkaOkay, so at the risk of making this blog even more irrelevant than it already is, what with my hard-hitting coverage of Oreo cookies and sexy pirates, I would now like to take a moment to discuss a movie that was released over a year ago: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It has finally made it to Pay-Per-View, and we watched it this evening. It just ended, and now, as I write this, the original version (starring Gene Wilder) is playing on ABC Family. Expect a few lists.

I got caught up, and got excited about this movie, as I watched the previews last year. A few things hung me up in my excitement, though:

  1. I am kind of feeling all set with Tim Burton and his nonsense.
  2. My dad’s constant vitriol regarding Johnny Depp. I like Johnny Depp. I think he is a handsome-ass man, with bones in his face that I have never seen before. I think he takes brave roles. And I think he is a fine actor. I enjoy him in almost everything he is in. But somehow, my dad’s whispers of “fucking move to France, already,” combined with, “pinko, un-American, liberal…” etc. somehow still manage to creep into my brain.

With that being said, I tried to enter this movie pure, and forced myself to try not to make comparisons. The original made a big impression on me, and there are parts of it I still think of to this day. However, my summary, after having watched it, is simple. This movie was weird and unnecessary.

Here’s what I liked about the original:

  1. Gene Wilder’s delivery of EVERYTHING, each key moment and line that you remember, was as an aside, delivered with a wink and a nod.
  2. The boat scene (with the projections of chickens being born, and other scary stuff) was deeply troubling.
  3. The scene at the end, where Wonka is pretending to be all mad and is sitting in his weird room of half-stuff. “I said, good DAY, sir!”
  4. Oddly, and I didn’t realize it until now, the musical numbers.
  5. The fact that I found 10-year-old Veruca Salt unsettlingly attractive.

Now, here’s what I DIDN’T like about the original:

  1. The kid that played the original Charlie Bucket kind of creeped me out.
  2. The foam truck was completely unnecessary. And bizarre. Not to mention needlessly erotic, somehow.
  3. Why did the four grandparents have to lie around together all day? That must stink to high heaven.

Okay, still with me? Let’s move on to the Tim Burton remake. Here’s what I dug:

  1. The Willy Wonka backstory, though wildly panned by critics, was really the most interesting part of the movie for me. It was the only stuff that was NEW, and not a pale recreation of the original’s scenes, only not played by anyone subtle or compelling.
  2. The whole thing LOOKED frikkin’ gorgeous, and was a lot of fun to simply SEE.
  3. The Violet-into-blueberry transformation was great, and on the whole, a lot of the kids were well cast.
  4. I also liked Mike Teevee’s character upgrade to smart-alecky, too smart, video gamer and TV kid. And his scene at the end was great…kept the same weird white-on-white aesthetic that made such an impression on me as a kid.
  5. The kind of shellacked, polyurethaned-quality that most of the actors had.
  6. Those squirrels freaked me out.
  7. The movie lasts about an hour past where you expect it to end (where the original did). And there is lots more to learn. Also, the great Glass Elevator was pretty dope.

Now, for what I didn’t like. Strap in, there’s a lot here.

  1. Johnny Depp just really screwed this up. He decided to just play it as “bizarre for no reason,” in spite of being given a whole lot more to work with. There is absolutely nothing special about his performance. There you go, Dad.
  2. Though I tried not to compare, I really did, there were SO many things that I wanted to be there from the original. No fizzy-lifting drink room? No “WONK! WONK! She’s a bad egg” moment, none of the parts that made a much bigger impression on me then I remembered.
  3. Just when I was missing the musical parts, the Oompa Loompas burst into song. And they did a few more times, with each song reflecting a different musical styling. But all the songs were weak. And why are the Oompa Loompas now all this tiny Indian dude?
  4. Speaking of which, WHY were the Oompa Loompas not a consistent SIZE? Sometimes they were three apples tall (Smurf style), and others appeared to hit at about mid thigh.
  5. This movie, in spite of SEEMING hyper-stylized, had in fact, WAY less style than the original.
  6. In a way, I kind miss the time when movies actually had to DO the things that were being filmed. In the original movie, the chocloate fountain was really just a lot of brown water, rather than a CG slurry of thickness. But it was REAL, and actually THERE. Want to film a boat ride? Well, your actors actually have to BE on a boat. This is probably not a reflection of this movie in particular, just how I am kind of feeling lately.
  7. Sigh. The biggest, most non-professional assessment, is I am just sick of Time Burton’s shit.

In conclusion, I was never one of those stoned “Willy Wonka, duuuuuuuuude” kind of guys. But this movie was dear to me. And the remake hits a lot of things right. But for the most part, you keep coming back to the same thing: There was no reason for this. All the CGI and special effects in the world can’t compete with the subtle brilliance of the original. Taking the insanity and making it more overt doesn’t improve the story, one bit.

Do I wish I could un-watch it? No. Would I recommend it to anyone who loved the original? Nope, there’s nothing more to see here.

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. I can’t stop laughing. I too recently watching the remake, and I couldn’t agree with you more on both movie reviews. You put into words precisely my sentiments, exactly. Bravo.

  2. hello Malcolm and Jillian!!! God jul til alle sammen!!

  3. I will have to take your word for it because I refuse to see this movie on principle. On the principle that I LOVED the first one (and loved the book even more)and I think it is absolute sacrilege to remake a movie such as this. 🙂 Great review, Malcolm!

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