?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [Jul. 24th, 2005|08:00 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |irateirked]

Just got back from seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What a mixed feelings experience. First of all, my expectation that I would hate Johnny Depp's interpretation of Willie Wonka was surprisingly not met. I like Wilder's better still, but Depp's had a charm of its own.

No, my problems with the movie came from other sources. First of all, the Oompa Loompa songs. Danny Elfman turned in a performance as embarrassing as John Williams' disastrous Catch Me If You Can soundtrack. The songs are pointless, too much attention is drawn too them, and the clever troupe of making each one in a different pop style caused Kristi to pronounce them "way too much alike." She didn't mean they sounded alike, just that they all sounded overproduced and ridiculous.

Second, the plot device of Christopher Lee as Wonka's dentist daddy was just ... I was going to say wrong-headed, but the real word is "dumb." It made the movie too much about Willie Wonka (especially now that you've taken his name out of the movie title), and the resolution is just plain mawkish.

And speaking of the movie being too much about Willie, where's Charlie? The subplot of Slugworth trying to get the secret to Everlasting Gobstoppers has been removed, and with it Charlie's moral dilemma. As Wonka says, Charlie wins not by being good but simply by being the least rotten. And how does he earn this honor? Simply by being so passive as to border on catatonic throughout the chocolate factory tour. There is an attempt to provide Charlie with the kind of moral fiber to make him a hero when he first is offered the chocolate factory but turns it down because Willie Wonka won't let him ever see his family again. But dude, this is an eight-year-old kid! Any child who isn't regularly abused by his parents is gonna turn down that deal. This does not make Charlie special in any way.

In the end, even though the story is now about Willie Wonka learning to deal with his past and the outside world, he merely stays at Neverland Ranch the chocolate factory with a handful of people who he's also isolated from the world. He doesn't learn anything, Charlie is well on his way to being the next strange little recluse, and the family is so stuck in their ways that they are still living in the ramshackle house. The stasis of two worlds is combined to curry the worst of each. Happily ever after.

Unsettling, and unsatisfying. I think I'll go pop the original into the DVD player.
LinkReply

Comments:
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 12:54 am (UTC)
It's not so much that I was comparing. I was perfectly willing to give this one its own place as a different adaptation. But it's an easy shorthand to compare when it doesn't really measure up.

I like Danny Elfman, too, but did not like the Oompa Loompa songs at all. The "Willie Wonka" song, however, was a brilliant moment of insanity that I liked very much.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 03:06 am (UTC)
I read the book a long, long time go, so I can't really say. There are ways it follows much more closely, othe ways it veers absolutely wildly.

There were parts to it I liked very much, other things that really bugged me.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: trianakvetch
2005-07-25 03:15 am (UTC)
i think the spirit of the book is captured better in this movie. It's darker and it does portray Wonka as more than just an eccentric recluse, which he was.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2005-07-25 12:59 am (UTC)
Your review was interesting and had some good points, but I think you've been misled about some things:

Burton's Charlie is an adaptation of Roald Dahl's book, and absolutely not a remake of the original movie. You rightly say "Where's Charlie and his moral dilemma?" if you are comparing it to the original Willy Wonka (movie), but Slugworth was only mentioned in passing in the book, much as he was in this new movie. Dahl's Charlie Bucket is a remarkably one-dimensional character.

Dahl's Charlie didn't win because he was an amazing example of moral fortitude. He won because all the other kids lost. Wonka's disbelieving "You mean you're the only one left? ... That means you've won!" is a direct line from the book!

I was absolutely delighted by several bits of the book that were added to this new film that had been omitted from the original; namely, Prince Pondicherry's chocolate palace, and the Squirrels (oh, how I love the Squirrels!).

Granted, the 2005 version isn't a perfect rendition of the book (Wonka's backstory, the Oompa Loompas appear Indian instead of African, the extended ending are all quite different), but it's much better than the 1971 version. As a Dahl fan, I was quite pleased.

I should also note that Dahl quite publicly hated the original movie, so much so that he refused to sell the rights for the book's sequal, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

And now I've definitely labeled myself as a real nerd. But what can I say? I want to be an English teacher.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 01:03 am (UTC)
True about the Charlie from the book. But it makes poor cinema, and the family thing grafted on is just silly.

The chocolate palace is brilliant. And the squirrels are fun. I admit to focusing too much on the negative. There were definitely things in the movie that I enjoyed.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2005-07-25 01:10 am (UTC)
I was a little unsettled by Wonka's wonky family story too. It was... weird. But generally, I much preferred this one to the original, as far as adaptations of books go. I'm a purist. :/ Which makes for poor cinema-going.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 01:11 am (UTC)
In this we differ. I am pretty forgiving of variation, if it makes sense.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 01:09 am (UTC)
And another thing: I'm a great believer that what makes an excellent book does not necessarily make a terrific movie, and so never objected to the changes wrought by Peter Jackson to my beloved Lord of the Rings. I think that applies here, too. Giving Charlie more focus was an improvement, IMHO. And Dahl hating it means very little to me - some authors dont know what's best for them.

;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2005-07-25 01:21 am (UTC)
It's true, "that what makes an excellent book does not necessarily make a terrific movie." But I have my arguments against what Peter Jackson did with LotR (why oh why did he leave out Tom Bombadil?) as well. And I'll never forgive Chris Columbus for leaving out Peeves.

I'm rarely ever happy, unless the movie never before appeared in print!

I try to make a point now of watching the movie before I read the book. It's a lot harder to be disappointed that way.

Sigh, such is the life of a lit student.

:)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 02:21 am (UTC)
I love Tom Bombadil. He had absolutely no place in the movie. He doesn't forward the plot, delightful as he is.

Good approach. I can tell you that Like Water for Chocolate will not disappoint you as the movie follows the book almost to the letter.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: badspock
2005-07-25 11:05 am (UTC)
Heh. Tom Bombadil being left out made me deliriously happy, since I found him to really just be nothing but annoying in the book. Of course, I've always had troubles with any singing done in books because I can never put the words to a decent-sounding tune, so that's probably the biggest reason I dodn't dig Tom.

As far as changes from book to movie go, the most classic good change I can think of is the ending to Jaws. If they'd filmed the ending from the book (shark suddenly dies of some sort of wierd heart attack or brain embolism or something equally "hand of God" dopey just as it's closing in on Brody, no one would have EVER given the film a decent review. Let's face it, the book ending blew chunks. Besides which, I get to use cool lines like "Smile you sonuvabitch!" every chance I get thanks to the Spielberg interpretation.

Now, if he'd only make reparations for the three hours of my life I'll never get back thanks to watching A.I., I might forgive him! LOL
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 11:27 am (UTC)
2.5 hours of A.I. were quite good. It was only that nightmare of an ending that sucked. If I ever watched it again, I would turn it off on the blue fairy fadeout.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sneakingyoda
2005-07-26 05:45 am (UTC)
I love you.

I feel the exact same way about A.I.

Turn the movie off after the bluefaerie fadeout. You can litterally see the line of "spewberg"
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: astridsdream
2005-07-25 12:22 pm (UTC)
Tom Bombadil being left out made me deliriously happy, since I found him to really just be nothing but annoying in the book.

Oh thank heavens I'm not the only one! He did not advance the plot, he did not appear ever again in the books (except for the very end, as a bit part), and he wasn't all that interesting. Thank you Peter Jackson for cutting him!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 01:21 pm (UTC)
Totally agreed, despite the fact that I like him. He has no place in the arc of a movie.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wikkidpixie
2005-07-25 01:30 am (UTC)
I agree on all points, and wanted to add that the lyrics to all the Oompa Loompa songs were noted in the credits as being written by Roald Dahl. It's been ages since I read the book so I cannot confirm (perhaps you can?) but I much preferred these songs, each one in their own style, to the 'originals' (which may very well come from the book as well for all I know).

All in all, I agree that the storyline was more about Wille than Charlie, and I liked it that way. My only problems were with his odd Pennsylvanian/New Jersey accent, when as a child, he had an English accent like his father. I'm willing to pawn it off to the isolation I guess. The other issue was silly; the fact that Charlie didn't get his change for his damn Wonka bar!!

Now that I analyze it, I can see how the 'family' issues brought on by Willie and his Daddy complex do overshadow the other messages sent out from the rotten children. I wonder if that was Burton's intent, to leave us with a 'family values' message more so than just a bad parenting one. Hmm.

In any event, I loved it, I've seen it twice, I'll buy the dvd. I love the original as well, but I think many parts of it are dated and enjoyed the updating. Sure, I missed some of Gene Wilder's classic lines, but the 'relatively new' puppet hospital and burn rehabilitation center more than made up for it. ;)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: morgi
2005-07-25 02:47 am (UTC)
You noticed the same things I did--the accent and the change. Hee!

I like this one much better than the other, which still freaks me out. I love Gene Wilder as Victor Frankenstein, but find him creepy as Willy Wonka.

Now I have to go back and read the book again.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: hollyqueen
2005-07-25 04:00 pm (UTC)
I missed the accent part, but I did notice that his eyes went from brown to blue as he grew up.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: badlydrawnjeff
2005-07-25 01:39 am (UTC)
I agree with just about everything you've said here. I personally adored the new version as the best surprise movie enjoyment ever.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: peterchayward
2005-07-25 01:00 pm (UTC)
Damnit. I go and write an update on all this, and you go and say it better than me. Evil.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: suzieboz
2005-07-25 01:00 am (UTC)

I'm Saving My money then.

Abby's all over me to take her to a matinee; do you know if there is a "Special Edition" DVD or if its just the regular one? I don't want to buy the regular one and then 2 weeks later here comes the Special Edition complete with Scrumdidleyumptious Bars....
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 01:04 am (UTC)

Re: I'm Saving My money then.

I think there is only one for now. It's on sale at Wal-Mart for $10
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: suzieboz
2005-07-25 01:06 am (UTC)

Re: I'm Saving My money then.

I think I'll dig out the VHS then; the Special Edition DVD's have a way of biting me in the butt.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 01:10 am (UTC)

Re: I'm Saving My money then.

That's the one we have. It's the only DVD version that's out. And it's on sale at Wal-Mart.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: darthfox
2005-07-25 01:19 am (UTC)
i have not read your review yet, but for original replace first, and then we'll be getting somewhere. :-) blah blah not a remake, estate of roald dahl approved this one, etc.

but i will try to remember to come back and read this after i've seen the movie. [g]
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2005-07-25 01:23 am (UTC)
It sounds like you're going into this with similar thoughts to what I had. When you've seen it, read my response to Zoethe's review, as well. I'd be interested in whether or not you agree.

This is a better movie for purists, I'll tell you that much.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: force_of_will
2005-07-25 01:52 am (UTC)
When we went I didn't figure to like the movie and didn't expect anything, yet every few minutes I'd find myself looking over at my wife smiling, and she at me, in one of those moments where you know you're thinking the same sorts of things.

"That's rediculously absurd!"

Really, the songs mighta missed the mark but I didn't even notice amid the absurdity of Deep Roy dancing and prancing around.

I'd probably agree the that first movie was better, but for some reason (okay Deep Roy) this one made me smile a lot.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2005-07-25 03:12 am (UTC)
As Wonka says, Charlie wins not by being good but simply by being the least rotten. And how does he earn this honor? Simply by being so passive as to border on catatonic throughout the chocolate factory tour.

Thanks, you just saved me the trouble of making the post I had brewing on that very subject...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fieryfae469
2005-07-25 05:29 am (UTC)
From what i have read, this story follows the book MUCH closer. I am currently letting J read the book, and I read it next. I have heard from critics though that This is the actual book version closer than the Wilder version.... which was only based loosely on the book...

the original book by Roald Dahl was entitled "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. " I also heard the end is the only part that was a little different from the book and that the Oooompa Looompas were much more like what Dahl had depicted them.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 10:37 am (UTC)
The whole Willie Wonka's childhood background thing is not from the book, and as I said elsewhere, sticking closer to the source material does not always make a better movie. The tweak at the end is definitely an attempt to create dramatic tension that wasn't in the book.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fieryfae469
2005-07-28 04:54 pm (UTC)
we are finally reading the book so I can say more about it once we get done. So far most everything in the movie was in the book. So far...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tanuja
2005-07-25 08:37 am (UTC)

Re: Slugworth

I don't know if you've read the book (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) or not, but given a couple of the comments above I suspect that either you haven't or that it's been a while since you've read it. Slugworth doesn't appear in the book (mind you neither does the dentist), and Charlie is not seen as pasive in the book, more in awe of his surroundings and the book emphasises his good manners. He gets offered the factory precisely because he has good manners and is not a "me me me me" child.

The film is on general release in the UK from Friday, so without having seen it I'll have to reserve judgement as to how close to not only the actual story but also to the spirit of the book the film stays.

Hello! I found you via yuki_onna btw.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 10:39 am (UTC)

Re: Slugworth

Hi there. Yes, it's been a while since I read it, and I know that the Slugworth plot wasn't in the book. The lack of it, though, and the fact that Charlie does pretty much nothing in the factory, do not add up to the kind of visual tension necessary for a good movie. It s thrown in for a reason, and this movie attempts a different throw-in that, IMHO works less.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: theonlykow
2005-07-25 02:47 pm (UTC)
You know, I agree with you on ever point but the soundtrack, and yet I loved the movie. I thought there were huge chunks that sucked, that should have been changed, that just went on too long...

And yet I got entirely lost in what was, in essence, the rediscovery of a movie that I've loved since I was a single-celled mass in a womb. I mean, sure, it wasn't perfect by any means, but I think what got me was the perfect capture of what childhood was like for me, and I think my overall attitude towards life nowadays - being a child and not just seeing the good in the face of overwhelming badness, but being able to live life like the bad didn't exist at all.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2005-07-25 03:43 pm (UTC)
I thought that overproduced sound was diliberate, a poke at what people expected.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-25 05:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but I STILL didn't like it. [g]
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-27 10:20 am (UTC)
Fascinating. How do you feel about clowns? I wonder if it's that kind of vibe.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: batshua
2005-07-28 03:37 pm (UTC)
I'm not scared of normal clowns. However, I'm scared of people on stilts.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-28 04:07 pm (UTC)
Which is beyond unrelated to Oompa Loompas! [g]
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: batshua
2005-07-28 11:29 pm (UTC)
Unless, of course, they were Oompa Loompas on stilts.

That would be really really scary.

*giggle*
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-29 12:01 am (UTC)
You would die of shock, I fear. [g]
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: batshua
2005-07-27 04:48 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the new one yet, but I have to tell you that the old version's Oompa Loompas and their songs majorly freaked me out such that to this day if I'm watching the movie, I'll wander off when it's song time.

They just give me the creeps. And the jibblies.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kandelschwartz
2005-07-28 08:47 pm (UTC)
The old Willie Wonka movie was and still is beyond creepy.

Part of that is because we watched it during college orientation week. About thirty minutes into the movie, someone stopped the tape and turned on the light, and then all of the upperclassman advisors doused the audience with large buckets of water. That's what we got for trusting them, I guess.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-28 08:51 pm (UTC)
WTF? That's just too weird.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)