Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)

(In theaters, August 2005) As a confirmed Tim Burton fan and a complete newcomer to the whole “Willy Wonka” stuff (hey, not all of us had a childhood versed in English-language pop-culture), I’m oddly pleased by this remake. The inspired lunacy that usually characterizes Burton’s films is in full display here, and I don’t have any emotional stakes in either the original film or the source novel. The energy of the film is uneven (and I can’t help but think that ten of the last fifteen minutes go nowhere), but it’s efficient in creating a sense of “what am I going to see next?” I was sold at the squirrel sequence; the rest of the film is just a bonus. The oddball performance of Johnny Depp as Wonka is endearing, and the kid actors are suitably annoying. Meanwhile, Missi Pile is as compelling as usual, riffing off her “hideously beautiful” Soul Plane platinum look. There’s plenty of good stuff in John August’s script, but I cheerfully admit that the usual look of Burton’s work overwhelms the rest of my usual critical filters. Up to a certain point, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory escapes any attempt to review it and just becomes something worth looking at.

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