Charlie & the Chocolate Factory: 2 Thumbs Down

I took my son Ethan to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight. What a disappointment!

The book is great. The book is fun. The book is funny. The movie just misses on so many different levels.


Well, the book is about Charlie. Remember that title? It’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That’s part of the charm … we see the story through the eyes of a child. Not so the movie. The central character is very definitely Johnny Depp, I mean, Willie Wonka.

In the book, Wonka is a child in a man’s body. He does and says whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Therefore, he’s hilarious. In the movie, Wonka is a white Michael Jackson. Errr, perhaps there’s a better way of putting that. In any case, to put it plainly, he’s freaky. He’s weird. And not delightfully weird either. He’s freaky weird. Serial killer weird.

And the androgynous haircut, spiky heels, pasty face cream, and nasty lipstick really, really don’t help. Big thumbs down on Depp’s characterization of Wonka.

Finally, in the book the Oompa-Loompas are funny and charming. In the movie, they’re just really bad dancers. Now the book is a music video? Whatever.

In some sense, movies made of books should be judged on their own merits. They’re really separate artistic endeavors. On the other hand, they use source material – often well-loved source material – and try to bring it to the big screen. In this sense, they should be faithful to the spirit of the original.

And this version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory just does not. Not at all.