July 24, 2005

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (2005)

Tim Burton's adaptation isn't saccharine and cuddly like the 1971 film: Johnny Depp's Wonka is a sheltered misanthrope. Burton is more faithful to the book than the 1971 film, at least in ways that really matter: The Chocolate Room is better (the river looks like chocolate and not brown water), the riverboat fits Dahl's description, the Oompa Loompas (played by Indian actor Deep Roy) look like jungle people. Veruca Salt is dispatched by the nut-sorting squirrels (instead of a mechanical scale). Burton includes flashbacks to several other Wonka adventures (included in the book): the construction of a chocolate palace for Prince Pondicherry, and Wonka's discovery of the Oompa Loompas in Loompaland.charliebucket

Burton's major addition to the Dahl story is a backstory for Willy Wonka. Why did Willy Wonka turn out this way? Why does he live all alone with his candy? Freddie Highmore is excellent as Charlie Bucket, but he doesn't have a lot to do as Wonka takes his Ticket-holders on the grand tour. The four songs the Oompa Loompas sing (lyrics by Roald Dahl, music and vocals by Danny Elfman) are fantastic, even if the words are hard to interpret. On the whole, a satisfying ride. (AMC Fenway)