The famous Willy Wonka is
A master in the chocolate biz.
This misanthrope of candy stars
Has hidden things in chocolate bars.
Five golden tickets are dispersed,
And thousands flock to be the first
To find them, for they mean, you see,
A tour of Wonka’s factory.
Poor Charlie Bucket is a waif
Who nonetheless feels warm and safe
Because he loves his family dear.
He’s sweet, kind-hearted, and sincere.
He sighs as kids around the earth
Discover tickets and their worth.
But then he spots some cash alone
And finds a ticket of his own.
The claimants bring their tickets in
To see what they have chanced to win.
They’re met by one disturbing song
And Wonka, who’s been shut up long.
He leads them through his wonderland
With lots of candy close at hand,
But quickly they all see he’s weird,
And one by one the crowd is cleared.
Augustus Gloop, a chocolate pig,
Is first to go because he’s big.
He falls into a chocolate stream
And makes a nightmare of a dream.
Within a pipe, he will not budge,
But soon he’s off to turn to fudge.
The rest then take a river ride
Past rooms where odd techniques reside.
Miss Violet Beauregard is next,
Succumbing to the strange effects
Of gum. She chews it, so unwary,
And swells into a Violetberry.
Veruca Salt (her parents’ fault)
Demands a squirrel, but an assault
Of nutty rodents throws the brat
Into a smelly garbage vat.
At last, the violent Mike Teavee
Becomes the world’s first transportee.
Because of Mike’s hostile high jinks,
He teleports but also shrinks.
With that, young Charlie’s left, and so,
With Wonka and with Grandpa Joe,
He’s overjoyed, and, moments later,
They soar in Wonka’s elevator.
Then Charlie learns the big surprise,
That Wonka’s factory is his prize.
But Charlie balks when he does find
He’ll have to leave his folks behind.
When Wonka doesn’t know what’s next,
With Charlie’s help, he reconnects
With Dad, a dentist off the grid
Who traumatized him as a kid.
So Wonka, in the end, relents
And learns what family represents.
He lets the Buckets move inside
The factory he built with pride,
And Charlie helps the chocolatier
With new ideas to pioneer,
And everyone lives happily
In Willy Wonka’s factory.

I’m a big fan of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but I must admit that this remake improves on it in many ways. There is so much that rivals or exceeds its predecessor, from the casting of the bratty kids and showing their ultimate fates to the Oompa-Loompa-that-is-many to the extravagant special effects that bring the chocolate factory to life. The songs, drawn from the book and sung by the versatile Danny Elfman, are at least just as good as Willy Wonka’s ditties and, as performed by Deep Roy, are much more varied and entertaining. (These songs also inspired the meter for the above poem.) While I prefer the first film’s Grandpa Joe, I actually like Freddie Highmore as Charlie better than Peter Ostrum. The minute changes in his character make him more noble and sweet, such as insisting they sell the golden ticket to help with the family’s finances. Indeed, he is the main draw as far as characters are concerned, making the change in the title from Willy Wonka to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fitting, especially because Willy Wonka is the film’s main hang-up.

I cannot get over how Johnny Depp (and, by extension, Tim Burton) ruins so many parts of this film. His portrayal of Willy Wonka as not just eccentric, but as an effeminate, traumatized weirdo makes me appreciate Gene Wilder’s performance even more. Every scene Depp is in, from his initial disturbing song introduction to his bizarre flashbacks, is undercut by his strange mannerisms and wimpy laugh. His eccentricity works in some roles, such as Captain Jack Sparrow, but here it’s just plain annoying and creepy. While I can appreciate the film despite Depp’s strangeness, my VC finds him and the overly bratty kids a little too hard to ignore and dislikes the film as a whole. Still, the great musical numbers, special effects, and endearing depiction of Charlie Bucket make Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the only Tim Burton film to make it on my list.

Best line: (Grandma Georgina, when the glass elevator lands in the middle of the Buckets’ residence) “I think there’s someone at the door.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 6
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 7
Watchability: 5
Other (Johnny Depp’s weirdness): -8
TOTAL: 30 out of 60

Tomorrow: #316: Chicken Run

© 2014 S. G. Liput