Saturday, August 13, 2005

REV: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Review, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Kerrville, 12 August 2005

A bit heavy on the sweet and frothy

The good part is that you can sit through the icky parts because the good parts balance them out.

I saw Willie Wonka many years ago and have never much felt like i wanted to see it again. Now, i kind of have that itch to refresh my memory on what exactly is new, what is borrowed, and what might be blue.

So, Willie is a bit of an unsavory character -- he's working out oedipal issues by making chocolate -- but creepy is not how i remembered him. So Tim Burton has that effect on things; to push them over the edge into a realm where you're left wondering about motive. And in this chocolate factory version anyone who is the least bit suspicious is simply sucked up into some machine and spit out the front gate.

So the good part is that the only truly innocent patrons -- Charlie and his mesmerizing grandpa -- are the winners here. And the good part on top of the good part is that Charlie and his entire extended under one roof family is charming, without quite crossing over into saccharine. The grandparents are all a genuine hoot. And everyone is a dynamite actor. And so, it's with some anticipation that we await those little scenes in their house (quite a character in itself).

But Johnny Depp, and i blind myself to my respect for the guy, is creepy occasionally, but mostly he's just not really with us on this mystical journey. It's not a dialed in performance, it was sent by postcard.

I am a fan of Depp's -- notably in Edward Scissorhands and What's eating Gilbert Grape. But lately i'm not so enamored of his screen personae. All too many folks have insisted to me that his Cap'n in Pirates of the Caribbean is magical. Nope.

So what else . . . the candy room was bit short on the perspective . . . the oompaloompahs, interesting but hardly fascinating.

There was a nod to Scissorhands, and Adam & Eve, and who knows what else. But most of the insides were too obscure to follow, and the adult nods created few laughs in the theatre where i watched. The kids, well i didn't even know kids were in the theatre until the lights came up.

So, while it was interesting, it wasn't interesting enough and i doubt i'll ever watch it again -- though i might dig up the early version.

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