Continuing with our theme of wonderful childhood fantasy… THE YANKEES SUCK, but not as much as the Red Sox!!!! Three fricking hits against Tampa Bay??? Oh. My. Gawd.
Wait. No, that wasn’t it. Sorry about that. Baseball tourettes.
We went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night. I’ll give you some opinions on it, but beware of the minor spoilers that lie ahead. Stupid Yankees.
I think I’ve told you before that the original movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is banned from our house. The kids can watch all the R-rated movies they want, but if Willy Wonka shows up, Mrs. Rasreth will kick him in the nougat. See, she loves Roald Dahl, and she especially loves the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Normally, she’s not a book Nazi, but in this case everything about the original film is so wrong that she is like a snarling mother bear protecting her cub.
The title is wrong. The lack of interaction with the grandparents (other than Grandpa Joe) is wrong. The whole Slugworth subplot is wrong. The orange Oompa Loompas are wrong. The psychedelic boat ride is wrong.
But worst of all… the most heinous crime of the 1971 movie… Charlie gives in to temptation and does something wrong! *gasp*
Seriously, if you want to get a rise out of my wife, just make the suggestion that we rent Willy Wonka. But let me know first, so I can leave the room.
Personally, I grew up with the original movie. I didn’t read the book until I was an adult. I see her point, now, and I was always disturbed by that Charlie bit in the original, but I love Gene Wilder, and I thought he was a perfect Willy Wonka.
Now you know why, as the previews were ending, my wife turned to me and said, “Get ready. If this sucks, I’m going to cry.”
Well, it didn’t suck. In fact, but for a couple of things, it was nearly perfect.
The first third of the movie, focusing on Charlie and his family and the backstory of the factory, are wonderful. I was nearly brought to tears myself at Charlie’s disappointments at not finding the golden ticket and then again when he found it. Freddie Highmore, as Charlie, is just as sweet and innocent as you can get without cavities. I loved the grandparents and the parents, as well.
The bad kids were good. The bad kids’ parents were good. The Oompa Loompas were great. As expected, the Tim Burton visuals were awesome.
There were only three things that kept this from being a great movie:
1. Why, God, why did they have to invent a history for Willy? Ugh. While it was logical and well done (Christopher Lee is always fascinating to watch), it really slowed down the film. It didn’t make it awful, but it didn’t add anything either. Note to filmmakers: It’s OK to have a weird, mysterious character whom we don’t know anything about! You don’t have to give everyone motivation and backstory.
2. The Oompa Loompa songs. I’m glad they used Roald Dahl’s words, and I thought they were neat, but I couldn’t understand a thing they sang. In this case, the songs are the lessons from the book. I’d have to say the original movie’s Oompa Loompa doompadee doo songs made more sense (not to mention being more “get that damned thing out of my head” catchy).
3. Johnny Depp. I’m sorry to say this, but he was really weak. I don’t think it was so much his acting as it was the direction they chose to take the character (see point #1). In Gene Wilder’s version, while he may have been creepy at times, Willy was magical and mysterious. In this one, he’s psychotic and pitiable. The times he let his sarcastic nature shine through were wonderful and funny. Unfortunately, these were interrupted by the thumb-sucking, emotionally disturbed far too often. I will say that anyone who saw Michael Jackson in the performance was looking way too hard and has watched too much TV.
Overall, it was great, but flawed. It’s not the ultimate version of the Dahl book, but it’s probably as close as we’re going to get. At least it won’t be banned from our house.
Stupid Red Sox.