One of the best children’s stories of the 20th century gets new life in this 21st century remake. The characters are better defined, given more personality, and updated for a brand new audience. Johnny Depp plays the bizarre genius chocolatier, Willy Wonka, who sends the world into a frenzy after closing his factory gates for a period of years. Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is a very poor kid who enjoys chocolate as a savory treat, and knows how to make it last. This is a very good thing, because he only gets one bar of chocolate a year, on his birthday. Even though Charlie is poor, he has a very loving, big family, so he never really misses all the luxuries he could have.
In a whirlwind marketing scheme, Willy Wonka sends out five golden tickets in random chocolate bars. Whomever finds the tickets gets to take a guided tour of the factory with Willy Wonka, and they also get a lifetime supply of chocolates. What kid would not want that? Charlie is dreaming big these days, thanks to the stories told to him by Grandpa Joe, whom was a very loyal employee of Wonka’s before the gates were closed due to industrial spies.
The countdown starts when the first ticket is found by the gluttonous Augustus Gloop in Germany. The next by the greedy, spoiled Veruca Salt in the U.K., even though it was actually one of her father’s employees that found it. The next by the prideful Violet Beauregarde in Atlanta, and then the fourth by the wrathful, know-it-all videogame addict, Mike Teavee in Phoenix. Charley’s dreams seem to be coming to a close when he read a story in the paper about the fifth ticket found in Russia, but that one is a fake, so it means Charley still has a chance. He finds what looks to be a 10-pound note in the snow, and runs to the local newstand to buy a bar of Wonka Chocolate, and there it is! He is given offers from people to buy the tickets, but he wise man running the newstand tells him to take it home, and not to let anyone stop him. The family is astounded, but Charlie says he is going to turn the offer down, because there are many people wanting to by the ticket from him. Grandpa George says that money would just run out, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that he should go, and so he goes to Wonka’s with Grandpa Joe.
Now, on to Willy Wonka. He’s a very odd sort of guy, with no family, and his only companions are the oompa loompas that work for him. The oompa loompas are a pygmy-like race from a place called Loompaland, which has never been found on any map. The oompa loompas are the world’s biggest chocoholics, and Willy takes them home to work in his factory by offering them all the cocoa beans they could ever want. Deep Roy played the part of every oompa loompa in the movie, even the females, so he ended up with more screen time than anyone in the cast
Willy does have a past, and it lead him to his empty success. We see flashbacks of young Willy, and his overzealous father, Dr. Wonka (Christopher Lee), who is a dentist and a perfectionist. Willy’s first taste of chocolate was some cheap Halloween candy that managed to escape from the fire after his father threw it in there. After that, Willy was out to sample all kinds of chocolates, from the little 2 cent mints to the most luxurious ones he could sample. He made notes, and came up with ideas. He was determined to be a chocolatier of the highest caliber, which caused a rift in the family, and he hasn’t been back since. Every time he has to mention parents or family, he gets choked up and a bit nauseous. Those on the tour consider him to be so odd, that this really does not seem that strange to them. Okay, rambling now…. so no more spoilers!
This version of Roald Dahl’s tale is very close to the book, and unlike the orginal, shows us what happened to those little brats who came with Charley on the tour. Clisair / Cleave went a little crazy on the screenshots, and you all should thank him for all the screenshots he has given us over the months here at Musings. Charley and the Chocolate Factory is a new classic, and far less disturbing than the original 1970 movie was. I only miss hearing “The Candy Man”, which is one of my favourite songs.
So, whip up some peanutbutter fudge and pop open a bag of gummi bears, because movies don’t get any sweeter than this.
I give this film a Musing review of