Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John August
Producers: Brad Grey, Richard Zanuck
Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka
Freddie Highmore as Charlie
Christopher Lee as Dr. Wonka
Some movies concentrate more on their storyline, weaving in and out, delivering emotional punches at every turn, while others, like CHARLIE, just take you on a ride, splashing colors, sounds and awesome new worlds all over your eyelids, in the hopes that you will journey along and enjoy everything you see and hear for its duration. I did. Other than the over-emphasis on the Oompa-Loompas, who were decent, but really took over a lot more of the film than they deserved (and all of their songs should have been cut or excised entirely—they just slowed things down as they were moving forward pretty steadily—although I really dug the original Wonka tune), I had a blast with the film’s basic premise, which resembled that other Burton classic (and one of my favorite movies of all-time) EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and was entertained by all of its goofiness, including many of Depp’s odd one-liners, peculiar stares and over-the-top behavior. I also really dug the world of the Wonka Factory, including the chocolate waterfalls, the candy-land area, the many themed rooms and the very cool see-through elevator. The whole thing was very grandiose, but at the same time, the pure performance by lead kid Freddie Highmore, his family and even the flashbacks to Wonka’s own childhood, brought a sense of reality to the proceedings, adding that much more to the spirit of the movie’s basic theme of fun and entertainment.
And ultimately, that’s what this movie does best: it entertains. I was surprised by how much “darker” it was than I imagined, but at the same time, kids might not pick up on some of those subtler touches, and enjoy it for its more basic superficial fun choices and overall positive message (don’t be bratty and spoiled, kids!). For us adults, I think there’s a whole bunch of cool fantasy stuff to enjoy, the visuals and the score are top-notch, Depp is infectiously creepy and you know what…I can see college students slapping this puppy into their DVD players, grabbing a bowl and some cheeba, and watching the film on an entirely different level altogether – which between me and you, might bring even greater insight into the man and the world that is Wonka.