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CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

2005, dir. Tim Burton
115 min, Rated PG.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Deep Roy, Saruman Dooku, and a buncha kids.

Review by Keith Nichols

Charlie and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory was good.

I'm a big fan of the Gene Wilder original, but they really did a good job with this one. Johnny Depp plays a different kind of Wonka, so it's cool. He plays it pedo-creepy like Michael Jackson. I almost spit coke all over the kid next to me when at one point Willy warns young Veruca: "Don't touch his nuts... he'll go CRAZY."

This photo is not evidence left over from the Michael Jackson trial.

We all know the story, so I refuse to bore you (or spoil it) with any more details. Of course, it can't help but be compared to the original. The original did seem alittle more magical if I'm remembering it correctly. This one seemed alittle more "realistic". -Which surprised me since it's Tim Burton we're talking about here. Maybe it's just 'cause I was expecting something alittle more surreal. Whatever. It's all good.

The only thing that concerned me was the Oompa Loompas. Instead of 100 midgets, they had one little African-Indian guy computer-duplicated a hundred times. Combine that with the guy playing Wonka's dad and you have something unsettlingly familiar. (Is it just me or have we already SEEN Christopher Lee cameos spliced amid scores of exotic clones this year?) Rumor is that they couldn't find enough little people, so they threw 500,000 British Pounds at him. I guess that works out to about $1.50 per hour, per Oompa Loompa. He shoulda hadda better agent. You CAN'T have a better name though. His name is Deep Roy. Seriously.

So many Deep Roys, so few Dakota Fannings. I was also surprised (if you can't tell already) that the ubiquitous Ms. Fanning wasn't in this movie even though the script called for not just one, but TWO precocious little girls. Apparently the five releases bearing her name this year (Nine Lives, Hide and Seek, War of the Worlds, Lilo & Stitch 2, Dreamer) didn't leave room for a sixth. Oh well. The two actresses playing Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde were precocious enough themselves. The kids playing Adolphus and Mikey did decent jobs too. The kid playing poor Charlie Bucket though... he was so damn cute and so damn humble, he out-endeared even Dickens' Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol. God bless them Buckets, every one.

Good movie. Well done. Truer to the book, but nothing spectacular enough to detract from the original movie. Obviously I'm still more sentimental about the Wilder version. I'd definitely recommend this one too if you haven't seen it yet. Good, clean fun. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have done it again.

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