I never saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as a child. I was a 19 year old college student – and it definitely fucked with my head. (There’s a time and place for everything, children. It’s called college.) Consequently, I’m missing all those warm and fuzzy feelings that made so many die hard fans rabidly hate the new Tim Burton version.
I also never read the book as a child. I read it in college during a Roald Dahl kick associated with James and the Giant Peach and showing several Dahl flicks during the No Elvis Film Series (Willy Wonka and The Witches.) Again, Tim Burton isn’t trampling any warm and fuzzy memories – although he did take a shit all over my love for Planet of the Apes, which is another story entirely.
So first off – Johnny Depp always gets a pass from me…although he shouldn’t after the craptastical Ninth Gate. I stand by my assertion that he’s the most interesting actor of the last 20 years, but his portrayal of Willy Wonka isn’t very interesting. Sure, there was plenty of malevolence bubbling underneath the surface – but I just didn’t get excited by the character. Although lots of people have pointed out a resemblance between Depp’s characterization and Michael Jackson, I’m not quite buying it. White skin and a bad haircut do not a celebrity pedophile make. Basing his portrayal off of Wacko Jacko WOULD have been an interesting choice – and I think it would have made the movie more interesting, if not X rated.
I am torn by the Oompa Loompas. I liked the fractal-like computer repetitions of Deep Roy – very geometric and tidy…but there’s something so aesthetically pleasing about a couple of dwarves in green wigs and orange body paint. The heavy metal Oompa Loompas made up for the lack of green wigs…almost.
Veruca Salt was better in the 70s movie, but the rest of the kids were on par or better than their 70s counterparts. The parents were about on par with their 70s counterparts as well…except for Helena Bonham Carter. I could not stop staring at her fake teeth. But she gets bonus points for NOT SINGING. That horrid “Cheer Up, Charlie” song from the first movie is the SOUNDTRACK IN HELL. I mute the damn TV every time that song comes on.
The only thing that I absolutely did not understand about this movie was the need to add Willy Wonka’s backstory. Who gives a fuck about his “daddy issues”? I’m always ready for some Christopher Lee – but really? Was showing that Willy loves candy because his daddy was a mean dentist really necessary?