Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'll Willy Your Wonka

I just got back from seeing the new Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was originally pessimistic about the outcome of this movie. I generally dislike remakes, and I was skeptical about Johnny Depp replacing Gene Wilder. But, I really liked it--I mean, really liked it.

The remake was able to use new-fangled fancy-pants special effects to its benefit. I can usually forgo the special effects; most movies now are unnecessarily filled with them. But modern special effects really allowed them to capture the far-out, beyond-your-wildest-dreams nature of Willy Wonka's factory. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is actually one of the few Roald Dahl books I haven't read, but having read the majority of his other books, I think Burton's depiction of the factory and all of the crazy antics were along the lines of what he envisioned.

The Oompa Loompas . . . Awesome. Their song and dance scenes were some of the most amusing parts of the film. The song for Veruca Salt sounded like it could be on the next Super Furry Animals record. I must say, I'm envious of the Oompas' dance moves and groovin' skills. It was also nice to see them, well, not so orange.

Otherwise, I think the movie had just the right amount of weird humor. The comedy wasn't overwhelmingly slapstick, and it wasn't too subtle either. It was delightfully odd, and hilarious. Though, Wonka running into his glass elevator doors twice was a bit too much to me. It almost seemed like a last minute attempt to get some kid-directed humor into the movie, just in case.

Johnny Depp is definitely cut out to portray a cooky, crazy guy. (But didn't we already know that?) There was also just enough sinister in his Willy Wonka to make it interesting. He didn't try to replace Gene Wilder by any means. It was very neat to see the different ways the actors interpreted the character.

The only thing I didn't like so much about the film was the addition of Wonka flashbacks. Not having read the book, I can't say if they were a complete Burton creation, or if they were in fact adding a part of the book originally left out. Either way, they didn't really seem necessary to me. They provided some insight into why Willy Wonka was so odd, sure. But do we really need to know? I prefer him mysterious. The only other purpose they served was adding "yay families!" push at the end. Yeah, ok. It's a movie that many kids are going to want to see, so you include a nice little moral-of-the-story ending. But it just seemed forced. Besides, even without that addition, the story has a moral: don't be a brat.

This certainly isn't a movie entirely aimed at children. There's a lot of odd humor more for adults, and there's a squirrel scene that would have terrified me when I was little. But not surprisingly, there were a lot of kids there. I got a real kick out of seeing a movie in a theater filled with kids. The random shouting gives you another thing to laugh at. There's also all the children parading in and out to use the bathroom. One girl felt the need to hop down every step on her way out to the potty. So funny. Some might find it distracting, but every now and then, I like it.

On the whole, it was $6.50 well spent. If only to see the synchronized swimming, dancing, singing Oompa Loompas on the screen, and the hopping little girls in the aisles.


Post a Comment

<< Home