A scene exists in Roaldador Dahli’s exquisite novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which Charlie and his Uncle, Grandpa Joe, witness all the bad kids exit the eponymous factory, their bodies completely warped and distorted by the disasters they experienced inside. I always thought this scene was pretty nifty, and as soon as I read it, my passion to see it on the big screen began.

Sadly, I was to wait quite some time because 1970’s technology simply couldn’t handle the task of stretching a boy so he looked like taffy (unless you want to hire one of those stop-motion animation nerds who take forever and cry bloody murder when you bump their fucking tables). It wasn’t until I saw that weird The Rock/Scorpion hybrid-thing in The Mummy 2 that I knew CG could finally perform at my standard. Without this effect shot, I don’t see how the film could hold any true meaning or purpose, which is why the Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks version is such a failure. (Spending time and money teaching 50 dwarves choreography and lyrics when you could invent one CG dwarf 50 times and make him do whatever you want is like climbing Mt. Everest when you could just fly over the stupid thing. But Mel Brooks always insists on doing shit the hard way. It’s the Catholic in him.)

Before I get into the film, I’d like to say a word about remakes in general because I know a lot of you panty-people are all bunched up about it, and people who can have periods start having exclamation points whenever the subject arises. See, there’s this guy named William Shakespeare and people love his work so much it’s actually a religion rather than simple fandom (bow-ties help this distinction along). Even people who can’t read agree his words are the greatest ever written ever ever. But guess what. The 37 (or so) scripts he wrote get remade every day! Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet is a remake of Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet which is a remake of Mel Gibson’s Hamlet which is a remake of Laurence Olivier’s which is a remake of Any Which Way But Loose. There’s no such thing as “remakes” in theatre, and there shouldn’t be with film either. For instance, I really liked The Lion King except I didn’t think it was colorful or animated or gay enough so I spent about 10 grand and brought it to Broadway. Did I need the same actors? Was Matthew Broderick there? Fuck no! He was down the street staring in The Producers, which happens to be a remake of a Mel Brooks movie where Broderick plays a role previously occupied by Gene Wilder. So don’t give me or Johnny Depp any of your fanboy shit! We’re protected by precedent.

(I’m sorry for the length of that last paragraph. I know how hard that makes it to simply scan the article, and I apologize.)

Since the first movie was called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but was actually about Charlie, I decided to call this one Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and make it all about Willy. Stories about kids were fine in the 70’s, but this is the new millennium, and we’re more interested in famous hermitical rich folk and their weird tragic sex shit.

To suck all the mythic, mysterious humanity from Willy Wonka and replace it with an SNL-level of human parody, I needed a very special actor capable of doing left-of-center work in a center-of-center film. And ever since he popped out children, that actor has consistently been Johnny Depp. Did you know Johnny Depp refuses to watch his own films? A policy like that has a wonderful artistic novelty value, but it actually makes him the most capitalistic-minded actor ever because the only way he can value the films he picks is by their BO gross, and the only way he can judge the value of his performance is by how much they pay him for the next one. It’s all about money with this guy. Anyway, his band, Dogstar is awesome! *wink*

Charlie’s poor so he can’t eat chocolate because his teeth are too weak and he traded half his tongue for a bottle of lice shampoo. Willy Wonka puts gold tickets in five chocolate bars and whoever gets them can have a tour of his factory. We all possess a collective memory of the plot from the first go around, so I don’t do long dwelling on the particulars of Charlie’s family, social, or educational life. It’s all sort of a mad dash to that stretchy-kid CG shot. There’s no “Candy Man” shit, no satirical world-wide hunt for the gold tickets. There’s just Charlie’s miserable shit-hole life for about ten minutes. He’s film-poor which means he’s absolutely virtuous and clean but with dirty clothes. One surprise gold ticket later and we can finally start this shit up!

Along with Charlie are: Spoiled Girl, Competition Girl, TV Girl, and Fat Girl, and they all have adult guardians with them. Charlie’s brings his grandpa who used to work in the factory before Willy Wonka fired his ass for being human. The grandpa’s character trait is that he may be old, but he’s still a child at heart. This tour provides him one last opportunity to relive his youth. I illustrate this especially in the “Fizzy Lifting Drink” scene in which…oh, wait, hold on. That scene isn’t in this version. The grandpa’s character trait is that he’s Charlie’s grandpa and not any other kid’s grandpa.

Eventually we meet Willy Wonka, probably the most self-centered asshole of a character I’ve created short of Benjamin Button. See, in the original, Wonka’s kind of an optimistic misanthrope. The random sampling of humanity provided to him by the kids and their parents only serves to confirm his hatred for humanity, but his very attempt to find a worthy heart illustrates a hope that he might be wrong (and, ultimately, he is thanks to Charlie’s honesty).
                                   

In the remake, Wonka  doesn’t give a shit about humanity. He doesn’t even knows what a humanity is. He already pre-hates every kid and adult before they even show up, including Charlie and his Uncle, simply because they are not him. Charlie’s virtue saves him from elimination, but it doesn’t make Wonka recognize his worth. He just sort of turns around and says, “Golly shucks! Yer the last one left. Looks like it’s time for Act 3 to begin!”

Wonka’s whole deal is that he used to be a chocolate obsessed kid whose scary, imposing father would not support his wild hair and his crayola spiral drawings on the walls…I mean his love of chocolate. Instead of biding his time and waiting for college like vegetarians and gay people, Wonka simply runs away from home.

Think about this. The fat kid eats too much. The competitive kid chews gum. The spoiled kid is a brat. Charlie’s perfect, and the TV kid is annoying because he is constantly right about everything. None of them, even the spoiled brat, attempts something like running away from home. And yet they are punished, maimed, and stretched like taffy for not following the physics-defying rules of Wonka’s weird factory. Dude, he’s the worst kid of all!



For instance, after firing all the humans Wonka needs a work force. He travels to an exotic country filled with dwarfs who love chocolate. Wonka’s like, come to my factory and work for me. I’ll save you from mean animals and give you all the chocolate you want! Sounds good right? It’s just like the time I researched a film with a group of rouge Special Op soldiers. One day, we intercepted a boatload of kidnapped twelve year old girls on their way to sexual slavery. They didn’t have money to pay us for saving them, so we let them clean our apartments and cook breakfast until they turned 18 and got ugly. If a little sex happened here or there we considered it a bonus for them because sex is fun and those girls didn’t have much to look forward to in the way of fun. Life is hard! So who’s to say? Wonka has one for a secretary, one as a barber, one as a shrink, why not one for humping? They all look Deep Roy in the dark, ammiright fellas?

Wonka’s such a dick. At one point he drives a super elevator through Charlie’s poor-ass roof. When Charlie won’t tell him what he wants to hear, he leaves in a huff, completely without apology for subjecting Charlie’s poor family to harsh winter conditions and constant bird shit. Later, without any humility for his actions, he’s back up in Charlie’s life, not because he misses Charlie or realizes he treated Charlie like shit, because he thinks Charlie can help him get over his weird Daddy issues. Charlie agrees and…

…and this movie just sort of continues until it’s over. Wonka tells Charlie he can have the factory once he dies, but he then invents an invincibility gobstopper, so Charlie’s fucked. The whole family freezes to death while Wonka freaks out over finding his first grey hair. The Oompa Loompa’s sing a song at Charlie’s cremation, but I can’t understand a goddamn word those little twerps say.

But I got my shot. And it looks beautiful. The one kid is, like, totally stretched out and tall. Computers did that! I bet we spent a month getting it just right, while the 2nd unit crew filmed all that talky Christopher Lee crap. Boring!

(three stars)

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