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‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ 2005/11/28

Posted by Dave in Movies, Reviews.
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I have to say right out that I have NOT seen the 'original' Gene Wilder version — 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory', nor have I read the book, so no comparisons can be drawn here. It is quite simple: Ruth asked me to rent the DVD of this movie because it came onto the rental market on 2005-11-08 and I think because Joobes loved it to bits. OK, Give anything a go…

What to expect? Well, Johnny Depp is playing the role of 'Willy Wonka' the chocolate factory owner and mad inventor, but that tells us very little; what is a 'typical' Johnny Depp role? Edward Scissorhands, Pirates and Ed Wood… no clues there… other than it could very well be weird. Roald Dahl wrote it and it has been popular with children for about 30 years, so it will very likely be edgy and left-fieldish. Tim Burton directed it — so it definitely will be strange! And dark, and certainly quirky.

The combination of Burton, Depp and Dahl, suggests a strange perfection; they all seem so well suited! So I was looking forward to watching this film.

However, I was let-down. But then it is a children's tale, so should I be upset that the plot didn't twist and turn? that the music should have been better? that the characters should ahve been more memorable? maybe I should be upset that the whole fuss didn't inform, educate or reinforce any morality.

The incredibly simple story is that the chocolate factory owner (Wonka) puts in his chocolate bars five Golden Tickets, with the prize being a tour of the factory, and a secret grand prize too. However, this competition is a ruse for the childless owner to find someone to inherit the chocolate factory (the secret grand prize), and so the five Golden Ticket holders are not merely on a factory tour, but an elimination test, and one-by-one they vanish in typical Dahlish fashion until all that remains is the winner, Charlie Bucket.

Charlie Bucket lives in abject poverty in a Dickensian world, and thus 'deserves' to win the day (per Dickens's Rules). Apparently this film is much closer to the book than 'Willy Wonka..'.

I found the film music awful, and the boring story held up by nothing more than silliness. The Best Bits were down to Christopher Lee (playing Willy Wonka's dentist father). The brilliant line: 'Willy? Why … it must be…oh…twenty years…….. since you flossed!'

Oh well, perhaps it's me… or maybe it is a film that some people just love and other just think is a daft waste of a couple of hours. For me, the characters were two dimensional, the pace was plodding, the oompaloompa thing was just unnecessarily bad and mad, and it all just seemed so pointless and amoral.

Sorry! I actually think I would not have liked this as a child. The oompaloompas would probably have given me nightmares! Yet look at the wonderful films out there that I did enjoy as a child — The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music etc. All with educational subtexts, morality and great music along with great storylines… I now just think Burton was enticed by the spin-off Wonka Chocolate Bars I see everywhere!

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