Friday, August 12, 2005
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton's latest film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is almost beyond description. For a film where everyone already knows what is going to happen, Burton manages to keep the audience not just entertained but enthralled.
For anyone not familiar with Roald Dahl's children's book or the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder, the story centers around a little boy named Charlie Bucket. In this adaptation, Charlie (Freddie Highmore) is a poor boy who lives in a tiny run-down house with his parents and grandparents. His family is so poor that he only gets one bar of chocolate a year. His life changes dramatically when he finds a golden ticket in his annual candy bar that grants him the chance to see the wonderful world of Willy Wonka by going to his factory.
The other children who have won the contest are very different from the benevolent Charlie. Augustus Gloop is an obese German child who has a passion for eating everything in sight. Violet Bauregarde is a champion gum chewer and karate enthusiast. Veruca Salt is a spoiled brat whose father gives her everything she wants. Mike Teavee has a passion for video games, and in this version, doesn't even like chocolate. Each of these children receives their chilling comeuppances according to the way they live their lives.
Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka is a creepy, child-like character with a ghostly pale skin and perfect teeth. Unlike the original film where nothing is mentioned about Wonka's background, this film delves into the pathos of Willy. It seems his father (Christopher Lee) was a dentist who forced him to wear horrific-looking head gear and braces and threw all his Halloween candy into the fire. Wonka created his factory as a rebellion against his father, but also seeks his approval and love.
The film is filled with inside jokes and homages to the films of old and new Hollywood alike. Burton even takes little tidbits from his own films and puts them in this one; for example all of the Halloween candy has "Jack Frost" skulls on the wrappers. The Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy) all jump into the chocolate river like dominos and perform a water ballet like Esther Williams.
This film is undoubtedly one of Burton's best and is viciously delightful though it ultimately has a good message about family being more important than fame or fortune.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito