Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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Theatrical Release Date: 07/15/2005
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Johnny Depp, Deep Roy

I finally got around to the quasi-anticipated “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. It looks as if I could have waited a lot more. To be fair, I never read the book and it is my understanding this movie is an adaptation of that, not of the earlier version “Willy Wonka”, which had been lambasted by the Dahl family for getting it wrong. Unfortunately, while they may be right, the Gene Wilder version is far more engaging.

Also going against this film is my general neutrality on Tim Burton films. I don’t go all crazy about his films like those Goth kids you didn’t hang out with in high school. And though I don’t want to ruin the surprise, the cast does include Helena Bonham Carter. I don’t know how Burton is able to convince her to be in all his films. (Yes I’m kidding, smell the sarcasm).

That’s not to say the film was all bad. I was emboldened during the opening credits because the screenplay was done by John August, whose credits don’t seem all that spectacular, but he does a great Q&A section on IMDB and wrote “Go” (a personal favorite). The set design was amazing and Freddie Highmore was a great Charlie, far better than the original. The children were all done well, though how anyone can hope to live up to the original Veruca Salt is beyond me. There’s also a great cameo by Missi Pyle, who never ceases to make me laugh.

Oddly, perhaps the best and worst thing in the film was Johnny Depp. Depp was able to keep me entertained with his odd and silly quips, but at the same time I felt no empathy for his character. About halfway through, I was just hoping the film would end because I was bored and could probably find something else to do. Part of that could be blamed on the fact that I thought I knew how the movie ended. And while the film fleshed out Wonka’s background more, I can’t say that I cared.

One of the most annoying things is that the Oompa Loompas are not as fun and the songs, while apparently direct from the book, are less inspired. They seem like overproduced Grammy presentations. While I liked Deep Roy as an Oompa Loompa, I didn’t like that he was ALL of the Oompa Loompas. This cuts close to my overuse of digital technology jag, so I’ll just leave it at that.

In the end, I appreciated the set design and Freddie Highmore was very good. The movie as a whole is something I could have done without and I’m suddenly feeling the urge to watch “Willy Wonka” to clear my head. I’m going to give the film a 3 out of 5. I enjoyed it more like a film with a lesser rating, but I can’t say the film wasn’t made well. I just didn’t want to watch it after about 30 minutes. The six-pack of Old Style is a must, but maybe a chaser of limoncello would help out.