Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
"Behold! The world's biggest Goober!"

© 2005, Warner Bros.
All Rights Reserved

This ain't your momma's Chocolate Factory.

In Warner Bros' new re-make of the old classic, Tim Burton has taken "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (IMDb listing) to a whole new level. It's just as colorful as the original, but far more quirky as only Johnny Depp and Tim Burton can do. Following more closely to Roald Dahl's book of the same name, Willy Wonka (Depp) has placed five Golden Tickets in his Willy Wonka chocolate bars. The lucky finders of these tickets will be privy to a day-long tour of Wonka's never seen chocolate factory. Charlie (Freddie Highmore), a boy poor in wealth but rich in family, finds himself with the last Golden Ticket. Charlie and his grandfather join four other families in the tour and ... well, you know the rest.

You cannot compare the original Gene Wilder film with Tim Burton's current vision. They are two totally different beasts. And what can you say about Johnny Depp but that the man is a pure acting genius. No, he doesn't channel Michael Jackson. Though many get that impression from the trailers, Depp's Willy Wonka is quirky and fascinating, funny and sad, weird and goofy, but not annoying or freakish. If Oscar nods for acting are truly given for those who give a great performance, Depp certainly deserves one. From channeling Angela Lansbury in his portrayal of Ichabod Crane in "Sleepy Hollow" to channeling Keith Richards in "Pirates of the Caribbean" to channeling the reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes -- not Michael Jackson -- for Willy Wonka, Depp really takes his craft to heart.

The Oompa Loompas, all played by Deep Roy, aren't creepy like the originals, and the new Oompa Loompa Bollywood dance numbers are quite funny. Freddie Highmore is simply charming. His expressive eyes and his genuine smile really embody the character of Charlie Bucket. So impressed with his performance in "Finding Neverland," Depp personally recommended Highmore for the lead in Charlie. One can only hope that Hollywood doesn't jade this young actor.

Tim Burton has made this film his own with his personal visual touches. The film as a whole is reminiscent of "Big Fish," another great Burton film and once that should have had more honors during the award season. After "Planet of the Apes," I wasn't sure if Burton should re-make another film, but he has proven me wrong with this one.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a film for all ages, a new classic of an old classic.

Filmfodder Grade: A+

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