Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (review)
Think of the Children!
Separated at birth?
Um, ewww? My head reels with questions: Who did this? How did this happen? Is Tim Burton going soft in the sentiment lobe? Has someone been watching too much Court TV? Is it too much to hope that this grand betrayal of one of the touchstones of Generation X will at last be the straw that breaks the back of we-
Oh, she wailed, I know, I KNOW it's just a movie and it stands apart from the 1971 Gene Wilder flick and the book is still there forever and ever. But let all those other people deal with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory like that, all those other people who are able to unwrap candy bars without some tiny remote corner of their minds half expecting to find a golden ticket, who don't react to some sudden burst of good fortune with a few bars of "I've got a golden ticket!"
I thought: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. They're the Scorsese and DeNiro of weird dark creepy shit, and they're putting their spin on one of the weirdest darkest creepiest kiddie flicks ever made. This is a sure thing. This cannot possibly go wrong. This is surefire scrumdiddilyumptious.
And the bastards, they teased me at first, with the industrial-
Oh, and when I saw Noah Taylor's name in the opening credits -- he who played the mad, sad young Hitler as a thwarted artist in Max -- I thought, He's gotta be Slugworth.
But there's no Slugworth here, as if to suggest that even spoiled rotten brats like Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee are incorruptible. (Slugworth, for the uninitiated, is the rival chocolatier who attempts to bribe the golden-
Honestly, the problem with Charlie is all my problem. I hate what the changes in tone and attitude from the 1971 flick say about how we've changed as a culture over the last 30 years... such as: We mustn't imply that even rotten kids ever deserve their just desserts. The mysterious, Big Bad Wolf danger that Gene Wilder exuded as Willy Wonka hinted at the intriguing possibilities being a weirdo offered, and exposure to that Wonka was an eye-
I love that the wonderful young actor Freddie Highmore gets the chance here to pair up again with Depp -- the two of them together created some of the most touching and memorable moments on film last year in Finding Neverland. But his lovely, wise Charlie Bucket barely has the opportunity to interact with Depp's Wonka, and certainly never on a level that's recognizably human... because for all the many times Depp has played characters like this before, he always found the core of humanity in them, whether they had razor-
Fri Jul 15 05, 4:23PM
by MaryAnn Johanson
MPAA: rated PG for quirky situations, action and mild language
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers
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