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Laramie Movie Scope:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Musical comedy of children inside Willy Wonka's works

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2005) Before viewing this musical comedy fantasy, directed by Tim Burton, based on Roald Dahl's 1964 children's book with screenplay by John August and music composed by Danny Elfman, I consumed a candy bar and a piece of milk chocolate so that I would not get too hungry watching. Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) built the largest, grandest chocolate factory in the world to manufacture his Wonka milk-chocolate bars and other delicious delectables. But after spies stole his secret recipes, which were then imitated by other candy makers - such as an ice cream that never melts and a chewing gum that never loses its flavor - Willy closed his factory, putting all of his employees out of work. Including Grandpa Joe (David Kelly), who resides with his grandson Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) and Charlie's parents and Charlie's other three grandparents.

Grandpa Joe tells Charlie stories about Willy Wonka, such as the palace he constructed entirely out of chocolate in India for Prince and Princess Pondicherry, though he warned them that it would melt on a hot day if they didn't eat it quickly. Though he'd said that the factory would remain closed "forever," Willy reopened his factory without hiring anyone to work inside; only candy came out, leaving a mystery as to what was inside.

Willy announces that he will insert five golden tickets inside five chocolate bars granting five children free admission to his astonishing factory, with one child to receive a very special prize, resulting in immediate increased sales of his candy worldwide. His family being impoverished, Charlie receives only one Wonka chocolate bar annually on his birthday. Inside there isn't a golden ticket.

The first golden ticket belongs to August Gloop (Philip Dunlop), a fat boy in Dusseldorf, Germany. The second goes to spoiled brat Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) of Buckinghamshire, England, whose wealthy father (James Fox), in the nut business, purchased thousands of candy bars and employed his workers to open the wrappers. Chewing-gum champion Violet Beauregard (Annasophia Robb) of Atlanta, Georgia, finds the third. The fourth ends up in the hands of Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry) in Denver, Colorado, who enjoys violent videogames but not chocolate candy.

In Russia, someone attempts to produce a fake fifth ticket. Before Charlie becomes one of the luckiest kids in the world, Charlie's father (Noah Taylor) gets laid off from his job at the toothpaste factory, worsening the financial challenge for the three-generation family, so that when the boy comes into possession of the fifth ticket, for which he's offered $500, he says: "We need the money more than we need the chocolate." Grandpa George replies: "Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money."

On February 1st, each child is accompanied by a parent, except Charlie, whose Grandpa Joe acts as his chaperone. As he takes them on a tour of his factory - the chocolate waterfall and river of hot melted chocolate, about which Willy says: "Everything in this room is eatable. Even I'm eatable. But that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is frowned upon in most societies," a voyage through a tunnel in a Viking-like boat with Oompa-Loompas (mischievous miniature people imported from Oompaland who perform song-and-dance numbers) rowing to the Inventing Room, followed by the Sorting Room with specially trained squirrels separating nuts from their shells (which when Veruca tells her father she wants one for a pet, Willie says: "Not for sale. She can't have one"), then into the glass elevator to the Puppet Hospital and Burn Center, and to the Television Room - beneath his sweet, cheerful, charming exterior demeanor, Willy Wonka, having an immodest modesty, feels an indifference, even a certain disdain, toward the children.

Each of the four unpleasant children will get his or her appropriate comeuppance. When Charlie asks Willy Wonka, "Can you remember the first candy you ever ate?," the snidely generous genius (who has a psychological impediment to pronouncing the word "parents") experiences another flashback to when he was a child in headgear for the braces his dentist father, Wilbur Wonka (Christopher Lee), DDS, affixed to his head, refusing to allow the boy to eat candy even on Halloween.

In the Television Room, where everyone must wear protective goggles, as Willy prepares to demonstrate teleporting a bar of chocolate across the room by television, Mike, after pronouncing that "Candy is stupid," snarls sarcastically: "You don't understand anything about science. First off, there's a difference between waves and particles. Second, the amount of power it would take to convert energy in matter would be like nine atomic bombs." Maybe Willy Wonka is also a quantum physicist.

I have my own minor quibble (not unlike Mr Teavee, a geography teacher): Charlie, who lives in the same town (not identified) as the chocolate factory, has a British accent, but the monetary currency (which has the appearance of pound notes) is dollars. Also, the movie has the quirky tone of British comedy - Roald Dahl was a British author - so why suggest the setting is the USA rather than the UK? Nevertheless, on with the move, "There's still so much left to see."

Why has Willy Wonka invited strange children accompanied by adults into his factory? While getting a haircut, he realized he needed an heir; the least rotten child would be the winner of the surprise prize. But "unexpected and weird," Charlie declines: "I wouldn't give up my family for anything. Not for all the chocolate in the world."

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)