Saturday, July 16, 2005
I ruined my friend Lindsey's summer by hinting, ever so slightly, that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might not be as good as the original. So skip this entry if you haven't seen the movie yet, I guess. I can't help but compare it to the original. I know it's its own movie, but it's very similar in many ways. So remember that as I comment.
Things I wrote down while seeing it in IMAX:
* Johnny Depp's Wonka is a big failure. It doesn't belong in the movie. Whatever Depp is doing (and a teeny bit is funny) is not what the movie is doing. He seems to have based the character on Dana Carvey's Church Lady. A gay candyman in the midst of a sex change. Michael Jackson. Wrong, sir. Wrong.
* Gene Wilder's Wonka was great because he always made us think he knew something we didn't. He was alternately loving and cold. Depp's is too preoccupied; he's haunted by childhood flashbacks involving his dentist father, and there's never any warmth from him. Wilder was magical. Just watch the "Pure Imagination" sequence. The wistfulness. The perfection.
* Dentists are evil.
* I now hate Danny Elfman. His scores have really gotten on my nerves. The Wonka music is grating, derivative.
* Too much CGI. Looks fake and ridiculous. The great thing about the original is that the Wonka factory, while amazing, looked like it was just stapled and schellacked together. Wilder looked a stutter step away from being a used car salesman.
* It's a highly moral story. TV is bad. Parents who spoil their children are bad. Greedy people are bad. The villains are flushed down various trash chutes. And the meek shall inherit the Earth.
* Wonka is a sadist.
* In the new one, there is nothing at stake. There is no seriousness. In the original, everything seemed to be riding on Charlie finding that golden ticket; and everything (in retrospect) was riding on Wonka finding someone to carry on with the factory. The new one needs a Slugworth! We need that test -- we need Charlie to give back the Everlasting Gobstopper! To prove himself! So shines a good deed in a weary world.
* Freddie Highmore's Charlie is a brown-nosing snot. He's too smiley for an impoverished youth.
* The songs in the original are beautiful and moving and wonderful. I missed them here.
* Also, Depp's Wonka has hints of pedophile in him. It's kind of creepy.
* Has the feeling of being mass-produced, like a Disney theme park ride, with no cleverness. It rushes through. The original took time.
* Re: Veruca, Violet, Augustus, and Mike Teevee. Their makeup -- which appears spray-painted on -- makes them look like dolls with creepy eyes. Not feeling it.
* After all this, I kind of liked the very end of the movie. And although the rest of the film is joyless, it's not a complete trainwreck. Except for Depp. Which is curious and unfortunate.
* I love Gene Wilder.
* I gotta pee.