Monday, July 18, 2005

Willy vs. Charlie

On Saturday Doug and I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Despite being a few weeks behind on our movie watching, this was the film I wanted to see this weekend as I still adore Willy Wonka. As a kid there were two kid movies I saw almost every time they were on tv -- Willy Wonka and Wizard of Oz. I think I can still sing all the songs in both movies. In fact, on the flight back from Hawaii, the airline showed Willy Wonka and I watched it yet again. Combined with the fact that Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors, I wasn't going to miss this.

From everything I've been reading about this movie for the past year, I knew Charlie was going to be different than Willy Wonka. In fact director Tim Burton kept insisting he wasn't making a remake of the original movie as much as a retelling of the original story. In fact the scriptwriter had never seen the original movie and based the script on the book. I also knew that with Burton and Depp, Charlie was going to be a bit darker than Willy.

Despite knowing on this before going, I have to saw after seeing it, both Doug and I were disappointed in the movie. There is something quite innocent and charming about the first movie that is lost in the second. Remember in Willy Wonka when the children enter the chocolate room and there is a look of awe on their face? It's just not there in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Veruca Salt, the spoiled rich girl, didn't seem as spoiled in this one. Or at least she didn't tell her dad "Daddy, I want it NOW!" on everything little thing she saw. As for Wonka, in the original Gene Wilder made him seem eccentric, but somewhat harmless -- like everyone's looney uncle. Depp, as one might expect, makes Wonka almost a freak. Much like you might wonder why a parent would let their child within 50 feet of Michael Jackson, you wonder why didn't the parents turn right around upon meeting Depp's Wonka.

The one thing Doug and I wondered was whether we would have liked the movie if we hadn't seen the original. I don't know, but I do doubt that 34 years later adults and children alike will be anxious to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every time its on tv.

BTW, in case you wonder what ever happened to the kid who played the original Charlie Bucket, Willy Wonka was his first and only movie he ever made. Today he is a vet in upstate New York and rarely grants interviews. He did, however, speak to NPR and if you get a chance, you should hear the interview.


Anonymous said...

Dara, Lauren is in Little Rock with mom and dad this week. They took her to see this movie yeaterday. She called me last night to say she loved it. She thought it was better than the original (she's seen the original about 5 times with me as I, too watch it and "Oz" as much as I can). She said the oompa-loompa was cool. I'll wait on it to hit blockbuster :)

dquack said...

You know, lots of people say they love the movie and several folks have said they like it better than the original. I think I am the odd one out on this. Still, everyone has the right to their own opinion on a particular movie. I LOVE The Way We Were and Doug sees it at pure torture. It wasn't until the third time he sat through it (and the first time he didn't fall asleep) that he realized there was a subplot about Hollywood blacklisting and the communist witch hunt.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is a darker movie. Johnny Depp's character is freaky and does remind me of Michael Jackson-his white face and how he moves. The factory sequences were too short and choppy. I liked the added scenes with the Bucket family and I guess the reasons why Wonka was odd. The trained squirrels and duplicated oompa loompa were neat. I prefer the old to the new as a kid movie.