Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 0.0 stars


Tim Burton's consolation prize for losing out on the Lemony Snicket concession (surely that had his name written on it) is a remake of the fractured fairy tale by Roald Dahl, a spindly little framework freighted with production values, CG imagery, and dark dense bordello color, like some scrawny four-foot scrub of a Christmas tree adorned with enough ornaments, lights, and tinsel for Rockefeller Center. (Proposed name change: Tim Burden.) The plot premise seems to combine the theme park and the reality show: an elimination game in Candy Land. Five lucky children, all of them horrid but one, win an opportunity to tour Willy Wonka's top-secret chocolate factory, in competition for an unspecified Grand Prize. Every time one of the horrid ones is bounced out (by some nonlethal but nauseating method), a chorus line of Munchkin-like midgets known as the Oompa Loompas comes out and does a musical number, combining Busby Berkeley and David Lynch. Further combinations: the reclusive chocolatier, in Johnny Depp's peculiar rendition, combines Mr. Rogers (mincing cadence) and Michael Jackson (pancake makeup), among others; and the titular little hero, the truly adorable Freddie Highmore, who played opposite Depp in Finding Neverland as well, combines Tiny Tim (poverty-line pathos) and perhaps Frodo the Hobbit (rodenty cuteness). All of these combinations and others (the "teleportation" of a candy bar into a TV set combines 2001 and The Fly, more specifically the sixtieth humorous usage of the opening notes of Also Sprach Zarathustra and the fortieth humorous usage of a high-pitched "Help me!") pile up, two by two, to produce an unsubsiding groan, arising either from the overtaxed framework or the overtaxed viewer. And the only respite from the ugly vulgarity of the décor comes from the prying impoliteness of the bulbous closeups. David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Christopher Lee, Deep Roy.

Duncan Shepherd

Rated: PG


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