Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
After the whole Planet of the Apes debacle, I swore to myself that I was done going to Tim Burton movies. I boycotted Big Fish when it came out, even though I like both Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, and the story did look interesting. Fortunately, enough time had passed that when it finally came out on DVD, I caved in to the impressive media blitz that they somehow forgot to give it when it showed in theaters, I rented it, and it was really good. So, thinking maybe Tim Burton had finally learned a modicum of self restraint, I decided to give Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a chance.
This movie had a lot going against it with me. I love the original Roald Dahl story, and while I'm not a huge fan of the changes they made to the story for the original film, I am a huge fan of Gene Wilder, so I have a tendency to remember Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with a bit more fondness than it probably deserves. But, ultimately, I went, and I saw it, and I wasn't disappointed. It's quite possible that I even enjoyed it.
Sure, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has its flaws. Having one actor play all of the Oompa Loompas was a questionable move at best. (Even if it was the always excellent character actor Deep Roy.) Setting the songs from the novel to ridiculous modern bubblegum pop music was annoying, yet somehow fitting. I would gripe more about the added backstory about Willy Wonka's father, but it put Christopher Lee up on the screen, and that in and of itself earns the movie a whole lot of slack.
All in all it works as a fitting tribute to Roald Dahl's story. It adheres much more closely to the story of Charlie Bucket and his family. Freddie Highmore is appropriately precious as the superhumanly noble Charlie. The Bucket family gets a lot more screen time this time around. The Chocolate Factory is appropriately two parts charming, one part creepy, likewise Willy Wonka. Johnny Depp plays him marvelously well, and though I'd still rather see Alan Cummings in the role, (If you doubt me, check him out in Spy Kids... tell me he's not a perfect Willy Wonka.) Depp still pulls this off with charm, grace, and just a little bit of subdermal menace.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a kalideoscope of sound, light, and colors. Its' most intense scene is a conglomeration of burning dolls, but any kid who's had to suffer through the It's a Small World ride at Disneyland will completely understand, and they do recieve medical attention, so it's all good. The movie is appropriate for all ages, just as it should be. It has just the right amount of tolerable terror to keep any child enthralled. I didn't fidgett once. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory definitely marks a return to form for Tim Burton. It recaptures some of the magic that he'd lost in recent years, and serves up a scrumpdillyumptious spritzer of restrained manic energy, bottled up and served with sugar and fizz.