Candy everybody wants
While Kimberly calls the commonalties between Michael Jackson and Johnny Depps Willy Wonka unfortunate, Jackson and Roald Dahl owe Depp big.According to what Ive read, Depp didnt base his character on Jackson, but rather mostly on his good friend Marilyn Manson (who, according to a GQ interview a couple of years ago, baby-sits for Depp). Whereas Gene Wilder portrayed a gregarious psychedelic pusherman in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Depp plays the same character as a reclusive, somewhat prickly oddball. The similarities in Depps character to Jackson seem obvious. While you cant really call them comforting, they suggest the singer, like the chocolatier, might be more weird and less sinister than our imaginations dictate. As Wonka, Depp is the centerpiece of director Tim Burtons production, a spot hes occupied frequently since the 1980s. Relatively fresh off mainstreaming his own quirky career with Pirates of the Caribbean, hes in a good position to help Goth trendsetter Burton do the same with his biggest and most family-friendly movie.But theres a lot more to Burtons Charlie and the Chocolate Factory than Depp, and quite a bit more substance than the 1971 adaptation of Dahls book. While purists who grew up with the cotton-candy-light original seem skeptical of the remake, Dahl well might be pleased. Its important to realize, as Depp said in a recent Associated Press interview, that Burtons movie is a remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, not Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory that is, the book, not the movie.That focus on recasting Dahls original vision through the warped lens of Burton explains not only why the new movie is so much better than the first effort, but also why its so much more satisfying than most of the remakes rolling off the assembly line.Instead of relying on in-jokes that reference the first movie, it remains exceedingly faithful to Dahls book, while improving on its vision. For one thing, Wonka gets a back story and a dad. For another, Burtons sensitive direction and Oompa-Loompa actor Deep Roy make parts of Dahls original text that hinted at racism a little more palatable.Its a complete, self-contained movie a few of them at once, in fact: a broad, technicolor Austin Powers comedy that evokes a swinging, mod Jet Age while making fun of it; a gothy near-sequel to Edward Scissorhands; a feature-length reality-show parable about virtue and greed and a fantasy about the mysterious man who makes the sweetest candy in the world.
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