a preponderance of punctuation marks (reedrover) wrote,
a preponderance of punctuation marks
reedrover

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie review and minor commentary

Last night I had a very nice date night with CK. We went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Depp/Burton edition.

I really enjoyed it, in the way one could enjoy a Mel Brooks film in its more ironic moments. I think that this movie will appeal to people who are cynical and enjoy a laugh in sympathy as Depp depicts exactly the revulsion or black humor that lurks in the bottom of most observers of parent-child interaction.

I would not take children to see this version of the book. At least, I would not take overimaginative young children to see it. The two reasons are the massive headgear young Willy wears, and the realistic way that Violet turns into a blueberry. (I had braces and neck gear as a child. This is a really bad way to introduce the concept to children who have braces in their future.) Of course, there is probably some kid out there who will get wigged out by the thought of being dragged into a garbage shoot by a bunch of intelligent squirrels... So, PG, as in Parents should bloody well know what their kids are watchinG.

The filming and set were well done, and of course, they were quietly and completely overdone. The Bucket family house was a Dr. Seuss cartoon made real. The grey factory town was colorized only to point out the candy recipe thieves. The missing townhouse was deliberately shocking. Ect. The visual presentation inside the factory was mildly disorienting at times, again, I expect that was deliberate. The inside of the factory was far bigger than the outside should allow, though that point may escape children.

The audience viewpoint was borderline psychotic, with painfully precise camera angles that gave the audience the worst possible view of the children. (A great deal of that view was focused on Veruca Salt.)

Of the four parents, two were overindulgent, one was hyperdriven, and one was clueless and spineless. Of them, Mr. Salt was the least overplayed (to me), but then, also, for some reason I liked his character the most of the four. Mrs. Beauregarde did a wonderful job staying in character for every scene, even when they were just walking through some stage of candyland. For example, look for how she holds her hands as she is walking into the factory.

Depp played Willy Wonka as a manic-depressive, traumatized, unsocialized adult who has disdain for society in general and loathing for his guests in particular. This version of Dahl's book really evokes the contempt the author has for people who employ the trappings of society, parents who indulge their children, and families that have hollow centers. John August (screenplay) and Tim Burton (director) were very heavy handed in presenting a specific set of fundamental values of love, family, and devotion beyond money. In contrast to the heavy disapproval of overindulgence and shallowness, the directors/authors/actors also dedicated time and effort to remind the audience that not everything in the world has to have a purpose beyond pleasure.

There were scenes that were easy to read and very easy to identify. Despite the purposefully outlandish set, the stereotyped characters were well played, to the point of I've been there feelings from some scenes. Most specifically, the "best friends" line delivered by Violet to Veruca is one that I have seen innumerable times, usually at sporting events and summer camps.

And one last note: except for Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, none of the actors were well known to me. I vaguely recognized a few of them, but only that. So it was a movie of unknowns, which added to my enjoyment. (Children who have seen Because of Winn-Dixie may be unhappy that our heroine Opal is now the hypercompetitive Violet.)

Edit: Also, having the Small World display go up in flames really satisfied some primordial craving.

I may update this review later, but rather doubt it.
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