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Overall Rating

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 Tom Ciorciari

"A sly, quirky summer confection from the team of Burton and Depp"
4 stars

For some the 1971 film WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is a dyed-in-the-wool family classic, for others it is a treacly, cheap-looking attempt to create a family classic at a time when family films were at their absolute nadir; it’s sole redeeming feature being Gene Wilder’s unease-inducing Wonka. So when it was announced that Tim Burton was going to direct a remake (although it really isn’t a remake, per se - more on that later) starring his go-to guy, Johnny Depp, as Willy Wonka there was much rejoicing. And what a joy to find that that film, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, is everything its audience could have wished for.

In the years since MGM’s classic The Wizard Of Oz first lit up movie screens Hollywood has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to replicate that film’s child’s-eye world in a live-action venue. Films such as Disney’s Labyrinth (1986), though made with substantially improved technology, look phony and stagebound in comparison. Then there are the films of Tim Burton. Since his feature debut, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1986), Burton has consistently found ways in which to create giddy fantasy worlds, often existing in the midst of the common and everyday. It is this irreverent and childlike aesthetic that Burton brings to CATCF.

Not so much a remake of the 1971 film as a second, more faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, Burton and screenwriter John August (Big Fish) eschew much of the sentimentality that bogged down the Michael Ritchie-directed first version and go instead for a typical Burtonian atmosphere of dark, subversive humor, more in line with Dahl’s original work. Charlie Bucket (Finding Neverland’s Freddie Highmore) lives with his mum and dad (Helena Bonham Carter and Noah taylor) in an incredibly ramshackle old cabin on the edge of town. Also in residence are Charlie’s four grandparents who, it would appear, all live in the same bed. So poor are the Buckets that only once a year, on Charlie's birthday, can they afford to buy even a single chocolate bar, which is then divided amongst the seven of them. This birthday, however, is particularly special as the reclusive Willy Wonka, creator of all sort of wonderful confections inside his mountainous and equally mysterious factory, has hidden five golden tickets in his Wonka bars, the lucky recipients of which will be able to actually go into his factory for a wonderful and surprise-filled tour! Of course, Charlie finds one of the five tickets and, along with the gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Philip Weigratz), spoiled brat Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), mega-competative Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb) and video-game maniac Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry) – these four children representing the absolute worst characteristics one could imagine in a child, particularly their own – and their respective guardians, is awarded admission to the Willy Wonka’s phantasmagoric factory. And what a factory it is! Whereas the factory of 1971 was the sort of stagey, them-park imagining that one might expect a cheesy Hershey Park attraction to look like, Burton’s factory is a truly magical land that seems to go on forever, despite it’s obvious architectural boundaries. This is the stuff that Burton (a marvelous artist and designer in his own right) excels at. Using a psychedelic palette of brilliant candy colors Burton and Co. fill the eye in scene after scene. Even the Bucket’s drab little house, which would appear to be leaning into some unrelenting wind (and could easily have come out of Burton’s own Sleepy Hollow or, possibly even more so, The Nightmare Before Christmas), is a wonder of design with it’s complete lack of right angles.

Of course this being a Tim Burton film there are the usual darkly humorous touches that audiences have come to expect (i.e. when Violet’s mother (Missi Pyle) gorges on some unnamed sweet she smiles through what might appear to be a mouthful of blood), not the least of which are the Oompah Loompahs. As previously envisioned, the Oompahs were little people painting garishly and dressed up in Bay City Rollers meet Zoom! jumpsuits. They didn’t seem otherworldly so much as a bit creepy (think: some strange pedophiliac work release program). Here they are given a humorous back story which imagines them as some lost tribe lured by Wonka to work in his factory with the promise of unlimited chocolate. As played by the digitally mass-produced Deep Roy the Oompahs have a certain swarthy deadpan demeanor that is typical of Burton at his irreverent best. And the Oompah’s musical numbers (each of the kids who gets booted from the factory has a farewell number dedicated to him or her) are outrageously entertaining, be they choreographed in an elaborate Busby Berkeley-esque dance routine or aping the band The Darkness.

As Charlie Freddie Highmore once again gives a pitch perfect performance, surely giving Dakota Fanning a run for her money as child actor of the moment. And as Grandpa Joe David Kelly veers from the lovable old codger type and gives us a rakish senior with a still-alive thread of childlike enthusiasm running just below the surface. The other children are all well-cast (particularly the amazingly doll-faced Philip Weigratz’s Augustus), and give each of their characters a memorable individuality, usually surpassing the adults playing alongside them.

But what of Wonka himself? Always a purveyor of fascinatingly quirky performances, Johnny Depp doesn’t disappoint here. His Willy Wonka seems to be constructed of equal parts dandified 1969 era Mick Jagger, The Incredibles’ fashion designer extraordinaire Edna Mode and (of course) Michael Jackson. Depp himself has denied using Jackson as any sort of inspiration (an oft-cited habit of the actor’s, his Ed wood borrowed from Ronald Reagan’s gee-whiz enthusiasm and, most famously, his Capt. Jack Sparrow was based brilliantly on groggy rock’n roller Keith Richard), but the character as written by Dahl in 1963 could almost be a template for the former King of Pop: reclusive man-child who creates a fantasy world of his very own and then invites a few chosen tikes to share in these fancies. The bob haircut, the impossibly perfect and white teeth (and there’s a very clever back story therein as well), the mad hatter top hat, these are all delightful affectations, but it’s Depp’s ability to bring this strangely wounded man to living, breathing life while still maintaining the film’s loony tone that is CATCF’s absolute lifeblood. It’s refreshing to see that success has done nothing to blunt this fine actor’s quirky edge (unlike, say, Nicholas Cage who made his name with bizarro characterizations only to turn his back almost wholesale [with the sole exception of his brilliant work in Adaptation] on the edgy once he won his Oscar – just ask Sean Penn), his Wonka being among the most “out there” performances in a career filled with “out there” performances.

There may be some who find Burton’s vision of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY a little too clever for it’s own good, preferring the Gene Wilder version for it’s simpler, more family-oriented tone. But for my money Messrs. Depp (could this be three Oscar nods in a row?) and Burton have once again hit it out of the park, even if the park is their own twisted little funland. Take the family, give your eyes a treat, and just try not to rush back to the candy counter mid-film for seconds.

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originally posted: 07/31/05 08:48:23
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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
5/11/08 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 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 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
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  15-Jul-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005



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