Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This started as a comment on a BlackChampagne post. If some thoughts seem more incomplete than usual that is probably why.

I saw the film this morning, luckily for me the children in attendance kept mostly quiet throughout.

I have a completely different take on the movie though, as I watched and loved the original version of it. I have seen it several times in the last five years or so and still really enjoy it. It has a great message and Wilder as Wonka is so eccentric that he might actually be insane.

After having read reviews for the new version I had pretty low expectations. Much to my surprise I actually enjoyed it. While I have never read the book, the fact that both Wilder and Depp played Wonka in the same manner would imply that that is how he is supposed to act. How can you fault an actor for portraying a character as it was written?

The addition of the childhood scenes made this movie better than the original. In the original Wonka was just crazy and there was never a mention of how he got that way. He was a bit darker in the original film also, a quote:

“There’s no earthly way of knowing / Which direction we are going / There’s no knowing where we’re rowing / Or which way the river’s flowing / Is it raining? / Is it snowing? / Is a hurricane a-blowing? / Not a speck of light is showing / So the danger must be growing / Are the fires of hell a-glowing? / Is the grisly reaper mowing? / Yes, the danger must be growing / ‘Cause the rowers keep on rowing / And they’re certainly not showing / Any signs that they are slowing.”

That is damn creepy to a five year old, especially when you hear the tone and building frenzy with which it is delivered. The addition of the childhood flashbacks, and the subtraction of the dark undertones, made a lot more sense. If you could say that anything about it actually made sense, that is.

The new version also removed one of the most ridiculous parts of the old one, which I am gonna spoil right here. In the original movie each child is approached by Slugworth and offered a bunch of money to get him an everlasting gobstopper. Charlie, after being viciously demoralized by Wonka and denied the prize he was due, gave the candy back to Wonka. No one, not even a saint, would have done that. Though it was a necessary plot element in the first film, thus making it all the more ridiculous.

The only thing that I really didn’t like about the new movie was the way it ended. It made it seem as though the grand prize was to be a slave to Wonka forever; he would never be able to see his family again after all. I suppose that was necessary to the plot, but at that point anyone over the age of about six had to have already figured out the last ten minutes. I guess it was included to tie it up as a nice little family film. Much in the way that Disney destroys films by making the endings absurdly happy.

The Cap Alert Guy gave this one such a good review that I am pretty surprised I like it at all. Though I do wonder where he saw a nude statue, why a mannequin in underwear is a sex offense, who he saw drinking, and what was the one use of the 3 or 4 letter word. There was one instance where someone was about to use a profanity but the audio was removed so that all you could see was a child with his ears being blocked. Of course my ears/eyes might not be quite so in tune with the Devil’s handiwork to pick up a passing word. Unless, of course, the use of the word nuts was considered obscene by context, who knows.

Possibly the only thing that was actually worse about the second film was the Oompa Loompa songs. The ones in the first film were cheese-tastic in a way that only a 1970’s film can be, but the ones in the newer version seemed like drug induced adaptations of the originals. Though I really doubt a child today would sit through the old songs, which were basically public service announcements, I also doubt that we will be seeing a spike in the piracy of Oompa Loompa songs onto iPods in the near future. The old songs were cute and cheesy, the new ones are just bizarre.

I am still pretty fond of the first movie, but the second movie tied things together a bit more cohesively. I am now curious to read the book to see which version is closer to it. Probably not so curious as to actually read it though.

Now, just for fun, I offer up my initial comment about the movie, before I saw it obviously

The trailers for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory show exactly what the reviews you are quoting say. I know that not everyone in the world, especially children today, have seen the original movie, maybe it will seem new and fresh to them?

My wife is still creeped out by the performance of Gene Wilder in the original movie. The majority of the creepiness is that Wilder doesn’t try to do an over-the-top caricature for the role, he is just a guy, any guy, who happens to be extremely eccentric. Wilder does have the crazy hair and pale eyes at his disposal which probably makes it easier but, he still looks human.

I can judge only by the trailers as I have yet to see the film but, my guess is that Depp was trying to combine Edward Scissorhands with the smooth clay Gumby figure when he was acting it out. Of course it should also be noted that he might have stolen the teeth directly from Mr. Ed.

I hope that I enjoy it when I do see it, but if the trailers are representative of the rest of the film I really doubt that will be a possibility.

I am glad that I was so wrong.

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