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Overall Rating
3.59

Awesome: 23.11%
Worth A Look37.33%
Average: 22.67%
Pretty Bad: 9.33%
Total Crap: 7.56%

15 reviews, 135 user ratings


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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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by Scott Weinberg

"Kids will eat it up -- and the parents will snack right along with 'em."
4 stars

Well oompa my loompa, look who went out and remade "The Chocolate Factory" -- and did such a dazzling job! We're talking, of course, about the mad genius filmmaker known as Tim Burton, the always wonderfully unique Johnny Depp, the exceedingly smart screenwriter known as John August, and crazy composer Danny Elfman, who delivers one of his best scores in ten years. Great for grown-ups, perfect for kids, and just weird enough to bring in all the cynical movie geeks, "Charlie" is a perfect example of why "sweet" is a compliment and "saccharine" is not.

I pity today's young parents. I mean, there you are desperately trying to introduce a 6-year-old to the "love of movies" -- and all you have to choose from are Herbie: Fully Loaded, Headache Girl and Migraine Boy in the Land of Excedrin, some movie co-starring Martin Lawrence and a basketball, or (another) night spent with the Incredibles DVD. For a parent trying to treat their children to the "wide-eyed dazzlement" of a night at the movies, your choices are irritatingly sparse.

But here comes kooky old Tim Burton to change that tune. Not only does his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remain true to Roald Dahl's brilliant source material while (slightly) hearkening back to the classic 1971 adaptation we all know by heart -- but on its own and divorced entirely from any previous work, this is a brilliantly entertaining family flick. It's slick, shiny, and sweet. It's loaded with eye candy and wonderfully funny performances. It's got precisely what a movie needs to keep parents entertained and kiddies enthralled ... but, sad to say, it's got a few rough spots, too.

Plot-wise, here's what we got, and this is the mega-truncated edition: Willy Wonka owns a massive and mysterious chocolate factory. After a long time in retirement, Wonka re-opens his palace and invites five random kids to have a tour through the freaky facility. Charlie Bucket is the only sweepstakes winner who's actually sweet and kindhearted, which means that the other four children are about to teach us a variety of lessons on the dangers of gluttony, greed, arrogance, and plain old rudeness.

(Dear Reader: If you really do need a full-on plot synopsis of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you absolutely need to sit down and read Dahl's original story. Or better yet, go see this movie "blind" and then read the book after. And then rent the Gene Wilder version. They're all pretty darn great.)

Two nitpicks I'll get out of the way right now so I can wrap this review up like the movie deserves: enthusiastic praise and my command that you go see it:

1. For a somewhat silly reason, Mr. Burton and Mr. August have decided that Willy Wonka needs a "backstory" of some kind. Not a bad idea, I suppose, but this flick simply doesn't need it. Plus the flashback sequences, which deal with young, mega-brace-faced Willy and his perpetually disapproving dentist of a father, aren't really all that interesting. Better to leave Willy Wonka as a more mysterious kook and not to "explain away" his eccentricities ... but it's a small nitpick in the grand scheme of the movie.

2. After a flawless first act, the movie brings us deep into the Wonka factory, and the numerous scenes that deal with each rotten kid as they get their well-deserved come-uppances. And here's where the movie gets very episodic; it feels like you're watching a short series of barely connected set pieces that have virtually no connective tissue to the "larger adventure" at hand. I suspect that my #1 complaint (the frequent and largely unnecessary flashbacks) are what split the movie into several slices, when I was hoping to dig right into an entire cake.

And those two components represent the whole of what's wrong with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, if it's me you're asking. Virtually everything else is grade-A flawless across the board.

Production designer Alex McDowell delivers some dizzying stuff here, and cinematographer Philippe Rousselot shoots it all with style and grace. Composer Danny Elfman contributes one of his very best scores in a very long time, in addition to a half-dozen Oompa Loompa tunes that are as funny as they are weird.

As Charlie, Freddie Highmore needs to be the heart and soul of this bizarre little story, and the kid does a wonderful job. Depp is clearly having a ball as the overwhelmingly off-kilter Willy, creating a character you might not like in a traditional way, but you will find him pretty darn fascinating. Playing various guardians that chaperone the kids through the factory, we have the stately and classy David Kelly, the strangely hilarious Missi Pyle, the ever-snooty James Fox... oh, and let's not forget the darling little children!

Annasophia Robb as the ultra-competitive and rather obnoxious Violet Beauregard; Julia Winter as the astronomically spoiled Veruca Salt; Philip Wiegratz as the cartoonishly gluttonous Augustus Gloop; and Jordan Fry as the high-tech snotnose Mike Teavee ... they're all great, and each one gets a little scene or two that they're allowed to steal.

Adapting such a beloved tale is a monumental responsibility, and let's credit screenwriter John August for a seriously superlative job. The mini-morality tales are tucked in quite cleverly, and they never once get in the way of the chaotic fun. The screenplay is full of jokes both broad and subtle, which is an indication of a writer intent on balancing the "kid's stuff" with something a bit meatier for mom and dad. Tim Burton will end up getting most of the credit for this film's success, but without the foundation laid by August (and whichever uncredited screenwriters there might have been), this movie could have been just another loud, flashy, and garish free-for-all. (True, the "dad flashback" sequences are all the screenwriter's original work, but like I said before: the few small speed bumps don't come close to ruining this ride.)

Cheery, crazy, very funny, and (of course) just a little bit dark, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a great rendition of a classic old story. This is a perfect example of how to take a well-established tale and re-tell it for a whole new generation. Here's hoping the 2039 version is even half this much fun.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12582&reviewer=128
originally posted: 07/15/05 19:53:41
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User Comments

1/29/17 stephen a giant pos 1 stars
6/22/15 David Hollingsworth gives remakes a bad name 2 stars
1/02/15 Catherine H zzzzz ... worthless remake, stick to Wilder version 1 stars
12/24/13 Michelle O any excuse for Depp to don COPIOUS amounts of makeup= he's no Wilder! 3 stars
9/08/11 Robin Awful adaptation that bastardizes the book while wrapping itself in a flag of faithfulness 1 stars
7/15/11 art an Adequate remake of the 1971 classic. 3 stars
6/06/11 Jeff Wilder Good for what it is. The Gene Wilder one is still the best though. 4 stars
1/30/11 Linda J A great remake of Willy Wonka. But then, what movie isn't great with Johnny Depp? 5 stars
7/01/09 orion Good for kids but overall farily blah 2 stars
6/06/09 Pokejedservo Not bad but I admit I too preferred the first film. 3 stars
3/27/09 Stevo Um... why, in England, are people paying in American dollars? 1 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. another freakish performance by depp :D 4 stars
8/15/08 Shaun Wallner Depp is so funny!! 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT FINE ART DIRECTION, NICE SPECIAL EFFECTS, GOOD PERFORMANCES AND OVERALL A DECENT FILM 3 stars
5/11/08 drydock54321 why does johnny depp always play such strange dark characters 4 stars
4/24/08 art A GRIM REHASH OF THE 1971 VERISON 3 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP the 1st time it was creepy and the 2nd time i loved it! sooo funny! 4 stars
6/09/07 Danielle Ophelia Lets the sugar speak for itself and concentrates on the tale's underlying menace. 4 stars
6/05/07 katy great filim 4 stars
5/04/07 johnnyfog The first one sucked ass, and so does this one. Why do people like either? 2 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK ''Willy Wanker and the sack of shit''. Is that a better title? 1 stars
4/02/07 jo sing it boring for some part 4 stars
3/17/07 cleofus jones can't stand the songs..but love burton//depp//movie 5 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Burton is the Willy Wonka of Hollywood. 4 stars
12/05/06 Stanley Thai A feast for the eyes, this film is filled with great sets and visuals! Great film! 4 stars
11/09/06 becky very good the chocolate was so yummy 5 stars
9/04/06 David Pollastrini Darker than original. 4 stars
9/01/06 kate tasker it sucked 1 stars
7/26/06 Mrs. Robinson sorry, but it just cant compare to the old one 1 stars
7/18/06 David Cohen Who would have thought Burton and Depp could make an unappealing combo 3 stars
7/06/06 Tom Groholski Sticks closely to the book and entertaining 4 stars
6/14/06 Poopsy Fartworthy I love the new Charlie and the chocolate Fcatory film! 5 stars
5/15/06 Diane P love johnny depp but unfortunately for me this remake didn't compare to the first. 3 stars
5/01/06 dinesh kumar Dahl, Depp and Burton, all my favorites and what an amazing movie. 5 stars
4/27/06 lala depp looked freay, hated the songs, but it was ok but the original was WAY WAY better 3 stars
4/16/06 JoJo betta than da original, but I agree w/ emily, he looked like Michael Jackson. 2 stars
4/03/06 Quigley better the 2nd time. Johnny Depp was great, and the look of the movie is visually stunning 5 stars
3/24/06 jesika wtf? total ripoff of the original- i almost shot someone after i cn this pos movie 1 stars
3/21/06 Rebecca I loved the movie, it's great for kids and enjoyable for everyone. 5 stars
3/18/06 Elizabeth An entertaining movie but it can't beat the original. 3 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar Too short. Songs irritating rather than entertaining. 2 stars
2/05/06 Shawn Gadberry Interesting, different, but the original is the better movie by FAR! 3 stars
2/04/06 Michele why do people like this story? 2 stars
1/30/06 the laughing man Not better than the original, but it is a more faithful adapation of Dahl's classic. 4 stars
1/20/06 emily thought Depp looked like a creepy version of Michael Jackson, but overall it was very good 4 stars
1/18/06 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Just when you thought Johnny Depp couldn't get any gayer 3 stars
1/17/06 terry Liked johnny depp - didnt like the movie over all - I was disappointed with this movie 3 stars
1/16/06 Alexis Edgy, dark and closer to the original story than the Wilder version. Depp is wonderful. 4 stars
1/13/06 sammy BIG PIECE OF UGLY, BORING CRAP 1 stars
1/10/06 Indrid Cold Depp tries to command the screen a la Jim Carrey, but he just isn't that great of an actor. 4 stars
12/24/05 Quigley the movie has great acting and incredible visuals, computer and set design. hail, Burton! 4 stars
12/24/05 S Gray Freddie Highmore is excellent but this movie was garbage. 1 stars
12/22/05 Ethan M. A classical film remade, but Depp could not live up to the standards of Wilder. 3 stars
12/22/05 tina mateer first won was better,yet this was good and did you see all the chocolate? heaven 4 stars
12/19/05 Bree Can't be compared to original. So dont! Excellent film. Good fun. Very close to the book! 5 stars
12/05/05 Sean D. Sheridan Not as good as original with Gene Wilder!! The Oompa-Loompas in current movie disappoint! 3 stars
12/05/05 stickman Silly movie, avoid it. 3 stars
12/03/05 Jennifer S. Very enjoyable remake of a classic. 4 stars
12/02/05 George Depp was great as usual,but I hated this remake. 2 stars
11/27/05 ods Funny and weird 5 stars
11/25/05 Idiot_for_LMP pass on this film. ruined a great classic 2 stars
11/24/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Deep Roy should have won best supporting actor. 3 stars
11/13/05 Del Pretty crappy remake of an all-time classic, the oompa-loompas just sucked ass 1 stars
11/13/05 Quigley johnny depp looks gay and pale, but his performance was as superb as the set design and CG 4 stars
11/11/05 Steve A great disappointment. Both from Burton and Depp 2 stars
11/10/05 natalie one of the best movies that tim burton has directed and johnny depp was awsome in it 5 stars
11/01/05 missjie86 Endearing, annoying, creepy and bizarre, but a Depp portrayal is always interesting. 4 stars
10/14/05 BoB A bit wierd and strange- but its meant 2 b, right? 3 stars
10/08/05 brittany boring and had no differences than the original movie 1 stars
9/22/05 Sugar Depp's performance, outstanding. Elfman's music, inpiring. Overall movie, I am in awe of. 5 stars
9/05/05 Green Gremlin Makes the original version look like an episode of "HR Puf'stuff" !!! 5 stars
9/05/05 Daryl Walker This flim was very funny at times. Johnny Depp was fantastic and it was just a fun time. 5 stars
9/03/05 littlefishy pretty good (not!) suked shit.......... 2 stars
9/02/05 Danielle I thought it was funny and I like the charecters in the movie 5 stars
9/01/05 WWW.FALLOUTWEAR.TRIPOD.COM/ great skate t-shirts and funny t-shirts. 5 stars
8/28/05 LittlePenguin FUCKING BLOWS, AND BURTON/ DEPP ARE MY ALL TIME FAVES, SORRY 1 stars
8/28/05 Tom Burns I loved this movie. Johnny Depp is hilarious. 5 stars
8/26/05 Nick Better then the original. REAL lessons to learn here. 5 stars
8/25/05 Eden Suffers from crap musical numbers and a tacked-on back story 3 stars
8/18/05 Littlepurch Not a patch on the original but still great.Music was great, kids were funny. Depp just ok. 4 stars
8/15/05 Snickerdoodle Really good, Johnny Depp is a riot and the songs are catchy 5 stars
8/13/05 Lynn Taylor cracking film loved it so much went bk to see it. Johnny depp is just brill 5 stars
8/10/05 bigfish reviewed by a cultural moron 1 stars
8/09/05 joy best movie ever! 5 stars
8/09/05 jada ok family movie 3 stars
8/08/05 joeysquids the original rrules-this is the best "remake" of all time 5 stars
8/07/05 tammi i is worth taking the family out 4 stars
8/06/05 ellziopscilly super! 5 stars
8/06/05 G Rosenberg Inventive, non-pandering fun 5 stars
8/06/05 Zack A million times better than the SHITTY Mel Stuart film from 1971! 5 stars
8/05/05 ron abrams just okay. looked great. not wild about deep. 3 stars
8/04/05 Christian The original was darker, and the "musical' features were just horrible. Still, enjoyable. 4 stars
8/04/05 Me Better than the original! 5 stars
8/02/05 C Vega More Loyal to the Book than Gene Wilders version and Perhaps dare I say it..... even better 5 stars
8/02/05 Wolfwhisper I seen it 4 times, Johnny Depp put a new edge on Willy Wonka! 5 stars
8/01/05 michaelb14 Depp was great as usual but Wilder still has the #1 in my book 4 stars
8/01/05 Beth Kerrick Good for kids; it wasn't as sinister as the original and obviously had better effects. 4 stars
8/01/05 R maybe sometimes taking liberties with a story is okay.. 2 stars
7/31/05 Matt Weak on nearly every single level. A failure for Burton and Depp. 2 stars
7/30/05 PK Charlie and the Chocolate Fatory proves what a genious Gene Wilder was in Willie Wonka... 3 stars
7/29/05 StuBot Burton lays a fools' golden egg. This movie, like his other recent attempts, fall far short 2 stars
7/29/05 sbpat21 very funny and exhilarating (***** 1/2 stars ) 5 stars
7/27/05 pym excellent movie, great adaptation of Dahl's book, very fine acting . I'll see it again 5 stars
7/27/05 John Our kids loved the movie!! 4 stars
7/27/05 Mike Olson Somewhat tedious. 2 stars
7/27/05 Mahogany Dear Hollywood, Stop remaking movies and just let them rest in peace! PLEASE!! 1 stars
7/26/05 Ty Spiceland Great movie, one of the best I've seen this summer 5 stars
7/25/05 Farrah I love Tim Burton films and Johnny Depp. This film was great and I can't wait to buy th DVD 5 stars
7/23/05 sully oompa loompa creepy,creepy,creepy,creepy, creepy 4 stars
7/23/05 Dan Just doesn't capture the essence of the original. 2 stars
7/22/05 Lily TERRIBLE TERRIBLE ACTING 3 stars
7/22/05 Kankasaur if you're a teenager with headgear, this entire movie will make you want to kill yourself 5 stars
7/22/05 WilderFan71 Will not be remebered for decades! Depp's "Wonka" = "WackoJacko" 1 stars
7/22/05 Artic i loved this movie, but i love any movie with johnny depp in it 5 stars
7/22/05 TROGDOR the entire movie made me want to fucking kill myself 1 stars
7/22/05 RockyS Depp's performance is perfectly smart and creepy 4 stars
7/22/05 Nessus More fun than I thought it would be, fantastic visuals, quirky 5 stars
7/21/05 Ken Great update (the original is one of my all-time favorites). Depp is perfectly creepy. 5 stars
7/21/05 William Vollmer not quite as good as '71 version 4 stars
7/20/05 Danny Burton-esque through and through, but missing the "magic" or the '71 film adaptation. 4 stars
7/20/05 Ole Man Bourbon Lots of good stuff 4 stars
7/19/05 orpament weirdly enjoyable except for the oompah loompahs 4 stars
7/19/05 jcjs easily as wow as the original, better even...Depp great, clever, fun, wonderful 5 stars
7/19/05 SmackDown Depp was terrible as Wonka, Jim Carry please! It felt rushed out, painfull to watch. Sorry! 3 stars
7/19/05 darkone silly makes no real sense 3 stars
7/18/05 Rick Burton creates a GREAT world...however, justifying Willy's candy obsession...odd 4 stars
7/18/05 Jeff Wilder Great film with a weak ending 4 stars
7/18/05 Charlie Not as good as the original. Watch Big Fish, directed by Burton as well, and is better. 3 stars
7/18/05 Nicole Creepier/darker feel than the 70's version and slightly altered story 4 stars
7/17/05 cpbjr extremely interesting. lagged in parts, with some poor execution. 4 stars
7/17/05 ReboValence This is how the last adaptation of the book should have gone. 5 stars
7/16/05 KingNeutron 3 1/2 *s; good in-jokes and music. Depp's Wonka doesnt compare to Wilder tho 3 stars
7/16/05 Jim The Movie Freak The boat ride was scarier in the original. Oompa Loompa songs lame! Still very entertainin 3 stars
7/16/05 Titus Soo o . . . cool. 5 stars
7/15/05 Body odor. Finally a guy in makeup,who has a kid styled home, that doesn't molest children. Brillant. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Jul-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Sep-2005




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