Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Review
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If you’re anything like me, you grew up on the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. And, like me, you may have been more than a little skeptical when you first heard rumors about a remake starring Johnny Depp. But when I heard that Tim Burton—the man responsible for many magical, whimsical films (most recently, Big Fish)—was going to be directing, my negative thoughts blew out the window. I knew I could trust him with this one.

And boy, was I right. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is, hands-down, one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. The original story by Roald Dahl is well-known to children and adults alike: A mysterious candy-maker named Willy Wonka announces that he’s re-opening his chocolate factory after being closed for many, many years. But he’s not opening the factory to the general public—only to a few select people. These people will be chosen by a contest—five golden tickets are hidden inside Wonka bars and shipped to different parts of the world. The five “golden ticket” winners and their guests are allowed into the factory for one day.

  
 
The first four tickets are found by nasty, greedy, and generally unlikable children. But the fifth ticket is found by a sweet boy from a poor family named Charlie, and it’s his story that we follow throughout the movie.

I really enjoyed this version, and I actually prefer it to the 1971 version. Tim Burton was undoubtedly the perfect choice for director, and this adaptation turned out to be much truer to the original novel (check out the review of the audio book here). The “look” that Burton gives his locations and characters is so consistent with the book that many of the characters actually look like they just stepped out of the pages of a Roald Dahl novel.

Johnny Depp is hilarious as the peculiar candy maker Willy Wonka, and all of the children turn out outstanding performances—especially young Freddie Highmore, who plays Charlie. The plot moves quickly, peppered with high-energy, show-stopping numbers with the Oompa-Loompas. And Danny Elfman’s musical score complements the movie brilliantly. There was a tiring subplot involving Willy Wonka’s father that I could have done without, but other than that, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gets two thumbs way, way up.

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