Charlie, chocolate release endorphins
Just when I thought summer sequels and remakes were going to do me in, along comes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.This updated version of 1971s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory blends Goth and fantasy into a freakishly fun take on Roald Dahls book.Director Tim Burtons intrigue with all things dark and skeletal emerges with Charlies crooked hut and continues throughout, right down to Wonkas flashbacks of skeleton-wrapped candy.While the film obviously brings back childhood memories of reading the book and watching the original movie, it also recalls films ranging from The Fly and 2001: A Space Odyssey to Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish and Psycho. Luckily, it doesnt resurrect that cute little Oompa Loompa song from the 70s that is stuck in my head even now.In fact, the new Oompa-Loompa songs are some of the highlights of the movie. The last time I laughed so hard watching a movie, I was listening to puppets sing in Team America. Apparently, the Loompas have traded in their robotic deep knee bends and bouncy warnings for something closer to a Devo-meets-MTV approach.The world Loompas work in glistens with sweets. But Wonka and the Loompas indifferent reaction to the childrens plight is anything but sweet. The fat German boy (Philip Wiegratz) is the first to eat the scenery lollipops on trees, giant pink sugar canes and large humbugs all of which were made of real candy. (The 244,993 gallons of chocolate to create the river and waterfall are fake, though.) Hes also the first to suffer the consequences of his poor lifestyle choices.Speaking of poor choices, Johnny Depp channels Michael Jackson throughout the story. It seems Depp wanted to use a combination of recluse Howard Hughes and shock rocker Marilyn Manson to inspire his character, but Jacksons influence is hard to overlook. The unnaturally pale face, the lipstick, the hat, the disengaged eyes, the gloves (though not white) and the obsession with living in a childs dream land all converge to portray a strong Jackson vibe.However, Wonkas sarcasm and apathy toward children opposes the Jackson stereotype. Wonkas idea of a tour includes tidbits such as, Everything here is eatable. Im eatable, but that, my children, is called cannibalism, and it is frowned upon in most societies.The Wonka of the new millennium is a little darker than Gene Wilders friendly mystery, which leaves an uncomfortable after taste. But screenwriter John August adds a psychological layer, showing Wonkas scarred childhood and bringing some sense of closure, however twisted.Freddie Highmore delivers a sensitive and inquisitive portrayal of Charlie, and the rest of the actors portray their characters beautifully.After a record-breaking streak of low box office sales nationwide, many experts predicted Charlie would pull them out of the slump, and he seems to be the golden ticket. I know it gave me new hope for remakes, and summer movies in general.Kimberly Nicoletti is out demanding that her father build her a chocolate waterfall in her backyard because she wants it NOW, daddy.
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