Friday, August 19, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Burton, 2005)

Not being a fan of the original adaptation of Roald Dahl's book apart from Gene Wilder's lead performance, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was not only consistently funny, but also the director's most satisfying effort since Ed Wood. The first 30 minutes or so in particular -- setting up Charlie's character, his family and introducing us to the delightfully rotten cast of supporting children -- is simply golden. Depp delivers the goods with another inventive performance that could only arise from his endlessly creative mind, although his character is weighed down by a needless back story that attempts to offer answers to questions we would never think to ask. I wish instead Burton had focused on Wonka's role in orchestrating the events within the chocolate factory. One moment where he hits the mark is in the scene where Wonka fumbles with his keys as a group of squirrels pursue Veruca. This not only lends comedy to the scene but reveals more about Wonka's character than the silly flashbacks do. There really isn't much of a counterpart in the scenes involving Augustus, Violet or Mike and the result is that we're unclear whether Wonka is bumbling, malicious, oblivious ... what? Still, I greatly enjoyed Elfman's Oompa Loompa tunes and the visual execution has to be seen to be believed. Funny. Very, very funny. The ending is somewhat awkward as it tries too hard to resolve plot elements that were needlessly introduced in the first place, but ultimately, we settle on a memorable and striking image that I found to be quite moving. Roald Dahl's tale translates well to the early 21st century. I took great delight in rooting on Charlie as he stood by his principles and watched gleefully as the glutton, the spoiled brat, the gum chewer and the tech addict got their just desserts.



Post a Comment

<< Home