Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Bomb Rating: 

Who knew the eccentric candy maker was a cross between Vanna White and Pee Wee Herman? Kids may be disturbed to the point of a post-traumatic disorder.

I just love having fond memories disgorged from my mind as though I were having brain surgery done by a monkey. However, as I've come to realize that the original Oompa Loompas were nothing more than exploited labor at the hands of the Bernie Ebbers-like Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), my cranky heart has grown colder. Still, there's a naïve corner of that blood-pumping organ pining for a dip in that chocolate lake and a long suck on an everlasting gobstopper. Tim Burton may consider himself an independent auteur, but he sure seems to have a taste for the unnecessary and unwanted remake.

The change from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" to "Charlie and the Cholocate Factory" is obviously an effort by Burton and friends to claim a closer relationship with Roald Dahl's source material and artistic superiority. Though the film pays extra attention to Charlie (Freddie Highmore), the movie is still about Wonka (Johnny Depp). Unfortunately, Depp's portrayal of Wonka is wonky, to say the least. Who knew the eccentric candy maker was a cross between Vanna White and Pee Wee Herman? Kids may be disturbed to the point of a post-traumatic disorder.

Shockingly, Burton and friends didn't screw with the basic story. Charlie still gets that last golden ticket and heads to the factory with Grandpa Joe (David Kelly). He meets up with the other four winners: eating machine Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), spoiled brat Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), ultra-competitive Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), and the disturbed, aggressive Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry). Each is the product of parenting that's so bad Joan Crawford could call them out.

Add a little nepotism to the mix, and things get worse. Is anyone else sick of seeing Helena Bonham Carter in all of Burton's films? She plays Charlie's mother. Look, the audience isn't responsible for whom a director marries, so why do we have to constantly suffer? This doesn't rise to the level of Nicolas Roeg insisting on using his nearly inanimate spouse, Theresa Russell, but it's pretty annoying.

But what really pushed me over the edge is what Burton has done to the Oompa Loompas. They're all played by the same guy, Deep Roy. That means special effects are used to make it look like there are lots of Oompa Loompas. It's not like it's easy for midget and dwarf actors to get work. The roles just aren't there. So I'm sure that when it was announced that Burton was remaking "Willy Wonka," midget and dwarf actors rejoiced. Finally, work! Instead, Burton went with special effects, thereby reinforcing Randy Newman's message of hate.

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