Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
November 16, 2022 7:52 AM - Subscribe

Children are lured into a secretive factory worked by slaves. They come to horrible ends at the hands of the factory's unbalanced and mercurial owner.

Starring Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, AnnaSophia Robb.

Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by John August, based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.

83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on HBO Max and TNT. JustWatch listing.

Today, I'm going to post six movies that are problematic and/or made by/starring problematic people, but also either: have merit/are acclaimed; won some awards; are very popular; have a certain amount of cultural cachet. I'll be tagging these #problematicmovies.

This one stars Johnny Depp. So... yeah.
posted by DirtyOldTown (12 comments total)
I didn’t see this movie, but you have to question why one would attempt to remake a nearly perfect film. It would be one thing, I suppose, to make a version closer to the book, but this is not that, adding unnecessary backstory to Wonka that would have made Roald Dahl cringe.
posted by rikschell at 8:23 AM on November 16, 2022 [6 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted for violating the Guidelines as well as the subsequent reply. Please remain respectful towards other members.
posted by loup (staff) at 8:30 AM on November 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

This one was just a bomb for me. Not only does it have Depp well into his unpleasant phase of acting (to say nothing of him as a person) but the addition of the completely unnecessary backstory for Wonka is a major failure to understand Roald Dahl's basic fascination with the grotesque for its own sake.

Willy Wonka doesn't need reasons to be nuts - some people are just nutty and that's what makes the story go.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:00 AM on November 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

I did see this when it came out, in 2005 I was still hopeful for Burton/Depp films. But the promo material looked...odd; why did Depp look like that? Talk like...the famous editor of a fashion magazine? What relationship does that choice have to this story? Ok, Depp doesn't want to mimic the other film look of Wonka, but...what? is? this?
I own the book and the Gene Wilder version, so I know the other materials. There were possibilities that this film version could do better in some areas; they could actually ride in a giant "boiled sweet" for instance (I had to look up what that meant, it's English-English for hard candy-- which means a whole boat made out of shimmering candy is kinda magical, albeit maybe sticky?). And surely they wouldn't follow the book in the backstory or depictions of Oompa-Loompas as...oh, oh, they did, kinda. Ugh, it's a White Savior trope mixed with some slavery. Why couldn't they be a family of candy makers who want to emigrate?
The actor, Deep Roy, has great dance moves, he's funny in his seriousness. But I loathed the technique of having him portray all the Oompa Loompas, in step, in sync, it's an obvious cheap digital effect in an otherwise pretty lush looking film. I think about how in City of Lost Children Dominique Pinon plays multiple identical characters, but they are all moving at their own pace, reacting in their own way.
And then all the Wonka backstory. It just overloaded this to the point of "Are we watching the kids in the factory, or the other kid being tortured by his dad, or weird fashion editor impression, I don't care anymore, yawn,".
So this is the film that did it, left a very sour taste--not in any good way-- for Burton and Depp. It's the equivalent of getting rid of all the not-very-good leftover candy by melting it all together with some tasteless sprinkles. No more, please and thank you.
posted by winesong at 9:05 AM on November 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

I know Johnny Depp's presence and the weird choices of the adaptation are noisy, but I do hope y'all enjoyed the plot description, which made me giggle at my desk while typing it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:09 AM on November 16, 2022 [13 favorites]

Just here to lol at the above-the-fold description. This movie is weird and definitely worse than the original.
posted by that's candlepin at 9:29 AM on November 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

I've only seen bits of this movie but will nonetheless insist quite firmly that the Futurama episode with the grunkalunkas and the slurm queen is the superior follow-on to the original movie.

Tell them I hate them!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:45 AM on November 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

"enjoyed the plot description"

I did... It reminded me of that legendary plot description for "The Wizard of Oz":

"Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again." - Rick Polito
posted by rozcakj at 10:54 AM on November 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

Burton's version of Planet of the Apes was bad but I thought that was maybe a fluke and Big Fish kinda redeemed him afterwards. Then this movie came out and I haven't watched any of his movies since. He took a turn for the worse and that was that.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:49 AM on November 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Somewhere along the line, Burton really went from an idiosyncratic artist energetically sharing his odd take on life and the world to a cynical old hack who will puke up quirkiness for cash.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:08 PM on November 16, 2022 [6 favorites]

One thing that I remember fondly about this otherwise trainwreck of a film: the bit where Willy Wonka's father Christopher Lee announces solemnly "if you do this, I won't be here when you get back." And when Willy Wonka comes back, his entire childhood home (father included) is gone.
posted by Paragon at 4:34 PM on November 16, 2022

I really like the improvements made to the child characters, which makes them actual characters that almost deserve what they get. Veruca Salts radiating sense of entitlement, Mike Teavees criticisms of Wonka using revolutionary technology for selling mere chocolate, these things really liven up the movie.

The really problematic element of this movie isn't Johnny Depp. It's that big fat slavery apologia sitting right in the middle. The 1970s movie did a really good job glossing over the origins of the Oompa-Loompas, and making them seem as magical as the factory itself. So I find it baffling that Burton decided to show in great detail how Wonka fired all his local workers, went to the heart of the jungle to find these dark skinned natives that eat terrible foods and speak goobledegook, and then convinced their chief to illegally traffick them into his factory where they would be confined to work without wages and forced to sing in English. I don't understand how Burton thought it was fine to have them all look interchangeable and imply dangerous experiments are performed on them. And then 5 random white children are brought in, because Mr Wonka (who is digitally graded to be so white, he's grey) wants someone to run the factory and any of these kids are preferable to any of the thousands of people that have worked there for years.

Also the new Oompa Loompa songs suck.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:21 AM on November 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

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