Today, I went to see the brand spankin’ new adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Being a big fan of Tim Burton’s delicious weirdness, and also a big fan of Johnny Depp’s delicious… Johnny Depp-ness, and also also at least a moderate fan of Roald Dahl’s original book, I have to say that I, for one, was really looking forward to this movie. So how was it? Like I expected — sort of like a 1 hour, 46 minute sugar high — fun and discomfort all mixed up together in a great big confection of guilt.
First of all, this film is not a remake of the 1970s Gene Wilder classic titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for which I’m glad. Go ahead and call me a jerk, but even though that movie is fun, and that Oompa Loompa song sure is catchy, it just never really clicked with me. Tim Burton’s version of Charlie is, well, Tim Burton’s, and therefore is really its own thing. I think it follows Dahl’s book pretty closely; it may vary from the source material in places (most movies do), but where it does, I don’t remember. The last time I read the book I was 9. So it’s been awhile.
Anyway, I think Tim Burton nailed it. The opening scenes in the Bucket home are spot-on, and the kid who plays Charlie is priceless. In fact, most of the kids in this are good, though I did find myself wishing for just a little bit more appalling brattiness out of Veruca Salt. Even though I think comparing this to the other film version is sort of pointless, I will say that the Oompa Loompas in this film kick the other ones’ asses all the way to Oompa Land and back. For what it’s worth.
Actually, as much as it may pain me to say this, the only problem I had with this was Depp’s performance. I was glad to see that he wasn’t Michael Jackson so much as a 19th century dandy underneath layers of cynical sadism and stiffness. At first, it worked for me, but after awhile, it got to be a bit much. Though the malicious smile that would play on his mouth when each of those awful children got what was coming to them was a nice touch. Ah, schadenfreude.
Anyway, I think it was worth sitting in a theater crammed with children on a Saturday afternoon to see this film, if for no other reason than, seriously, oh my God, the squirrels!