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Burton’s ‘Charlie’ a delectable morsel

Movie remakes are very common these days and the director always

takes a chance offending fans of the original, especially one that is

well-known and much beloved.

With “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (rated PG), Tim Burton

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took a risk, not uncommon given his past works, and succeeds

wonderfully. He has crafted a delight that won’t offend aficionados

of the 1971 “Willy Wonka” version, should please fans of the

children’s book and captivates a new generation just discovering this

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pleasure.

The story is familiar -- eccentric and mysterious candy maker

Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) places golden tickets in five bars of

chocolate and sets off a worldwide frenzy for the lucky winners to

tour his factory.

Four of the children are characteristically unlikable; the obvious

results of bad parenting, with the exception being poor but honest

Charlie (Freddie Highmore). Each child gets the fate he or she

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deserves and Wonka’s weak attempts to save them are subtly amusing.

Elements of the movie are like chocolate itself -- some are dark

and some are sweet. From the film’s opening, Danny Elfman’s musical

score is mysterious and moody but later takes on a lighter tone. He’s

worked with director Burton before and knows how to create music that

enhances the story without being a distraction. The musical fables

the Oompa Loompas sing about the deserved mishaps that befall the

nasty kids showcase a range of musical styles, paying marvelous

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tributes to everything from the Beatles to Busby Berkeley. Elfman

himself sings the vocals and does a great job.

The art direction is similarly styled. The city surrounding the

Wonka factory is depressing, dreary and snowy, but the heart of the

factory is bright and playful. The colors inside are brilliant and

vivid and the atmosphere certainly makes the audience want to sample

the edible goodies, but with more restraint than Augustus Gloop.

Don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel an urge to visit the

theater’s candy counter.

Depp’s portrayal is spot-on, ranging from whimsy to mania,

portraying an industry genius with definite childlike qualities.

He switches his off-balance behavior from charming to disarming

with ease and keeps the audience and the other characters guessing

about his true intentions.

When Charlie says, “I wouldn’t give up my family for anything,”

Wonka doesn’t understand this sentiment.

There are a few flashbacks from his childhood with deeper

psychological undertones that explain Wonka’s motivations and add an

interesting depth to his character.

The well-written script works on many levels and has dialogue for

children and adults.

Many of the double entendres will entertain parents who were

possibly dragged to the film by their kids. Even the simple cliche of

Veruca Salt as a “bad nut” succeeds with Depp’s nuanced delivery.

Highmore is well cast as Charlie, making him easy to root for. The

other actors also give good performances, particularly Missi Pyle as

Violet Beauregard’s mother.

She gives the right amount of sauciness to a transparent former

cheerleader whose unrealized dreams have produced a competitive

monster of a daughter.

Just like chocolate, you must resist temptation; in this case, to

compare this version to its predecessor. Judge it on its own and you

should find this concoction a delicious treat.

* PHILLIP HAIN is a Glendale resident who enjoys eating and

cooking with chocolate.


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