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Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

Movie Info

RATING:

PG for quirky situations, action, and mild language

RELEASE:

July 15, 2005

GENRE:

Kids/Family, Musical/Performing Arts and Science Fiction/Fantasy

STARRING:

Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Deep Roy

DIRECTOR:

Tim Burton

SCREENWRITER:

John August

BASED ON NOVEL BY:

Roald Dahl

DISTRIBUTOR:

Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.

MOVIE REVIEW

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Producer

CBN.com I’d been anticipating the release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for months. There are few movies that I rush out to see on opening night, but this was one of them. The film more than met my high expectations.

In the story, based on the book by Roald Dahl, Charlie Bucket (played by Freddie Highmore) lives with his parents and grandparents in a small, run-down shack on the edge of town. One day the town’s infamous candy maker Willy Wonka (played by Johnny Depp) announces a contest in which five lucky winners will be allowed to tour his candy factory, and one lucky child will receive an additional surprise. The candy maker inserted five golden tickets into his chocolate bars, and the five children to find them win the contest.

In a twist of fate, or perhaps divine intervention, Charlie finds one of the tickets and invites his Grandpa Joe, who worked at the candy factory years ago, to join him on the tour.

The true magic of the film comes through director Tim Burton’s (Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Edward Scissorhands) imaginative portrayal of the fantasy land inside the candy factory. For fans of the original 1971 movie, starring Gene Wilder, the plot will be very familiar. However, some details have been added that help to develop the story beyond the original film.

For instance, we learn about Wonka’s past and what led him to become a candy maker, as well as what led him to isolate himself from the outside world. These details help endear the audience to the peculiar chocolateer, despite his strangeness. We also learn the fate of the other four children whose mischief during the tour put them in some troubling predicaments. This plot addition helps bring that part of the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Although Burton is often known more for his somewhat dark and unusual films, this one is actually rather uplifting and offers an admirable morality while imparting a few lessons in good behavior for children, and good parenting for adults. The film is also quite family-friendly with no profanity and only one innuendo that could be construed as slightly off-color, if you want to take it that way.

Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'Depp is the perfect choice for the role of Wonka. He gives a strong performance as the quirky, self-absorbed, and socially inept candy maker. Complementing his performance is child-star Highmore, (Finding Neverland and Two Brothers) who brings warmth and sincerity to the character of Charlie and to the film overall.

As I exited the theater a lady standing a few rows behind me commented that she would “stick with the original movie.” For people who are not fans of Tim Burton’s unconventional films, this may be their response as well.

For me, the film was an improvement over the 1971 one – although I enjoy that one also. Burton and screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle) follow the storyline in Dahl’s book more closely than the original film did, and their added back story fills in gaps that make the story more meaningful.

The only weak spots in the new adaptation are the revised song and dance numbers by the Oompa Loompas (all played by actor Deep Roy). While they do follow the songs in the book nearly word for word, the routines are uninspiring and the combination of fast rhythms and overly loud music renders the lyrics undecipherable for the most part.

Despite the tiresome dance routines, the film is humorous and enjoyable. Like the original version of the film, there are some scenes that may be a bit intense for the youngest of viewers. But most children will be able to see the moral message behind the madness of Willy Wonka.

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