AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (2005)
Tim Burton's second involvement with
the work of Roald Dahl (after producing James and the Giant Peach) would be based
on the book "Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory",
which had been filmed once before as
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Though that film has a strong
cult following (mainly for Gene
Wilder's entertaining lead performance
and the songs) many devoted fans of
the book, and Dahl's family, were unhappy
with how many liberties it took with
the story. Burton himself wasn't a fan
of the original film, which meant it
was quite a different experience for
him than Planet of the Apes.
Burton's version, with a script by Big
Fish writer John August, was billed
as a more faithful adaptation. Burton
himself wanted to keep it closer to
the book, though Wonka's backstory and
the extended ending were departures.
Shooting took place in England (at Pinewood studios, which had also been used for Batman)
and Burton was once again reunited with
his favourite actor, Johnny Depp. For
the first time, thanks to the success of Pirates
of the Caribbean (2003), the studio
didn't suggest other names in place
Snow falls behind the WB logo, letting
the audience know we're in for another
trip into Burton's wonderland. The main
titles are the most entertaining in
a Burton film for a while, a delirious
trip down the chimney and through the
We're in classic
Burton territory, as we watch countless
chocolate bars being produced by machines
that recall those of the Inventor in Edward Scissorhands. The hand
of Willy Wonka (which, like the rest
of the sequence, looks suspiciously
computer-generated) places golden tickets
in select chocolate bars. Finally, boxes with different
destinations on them are put into vans
and driven away from the ominous factory.
After the whimsical opening, the story
moves very quickly for the most part.
Like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Big Fish, the film uses
a narrator (this time the voice of Geoffrey
Holder) to set the scene. We meet
Charlie Bucket, the poor but kind-hearted
boy who lives with his family (including
two sets of grandparents) in a crammed
house in the shadow of the ominous Wonka
Charlie's Grandpa Joe actually worked
at the factory once, and from him we
learn the history of the factory (it
was built fifteen years ago) and its
reclusive owner, Willy Wonka. There's
an amusing sequence where Wonka builds
a chocolate palace for a Prince in New
Delhi, which if course then melts and
collapses on the first hot day.
at the factory, increasing cases of
thievery force Wonka to fire all his
staff and close the factory. The factory
later reopened, but no one is ever seen
going in or out. While Wonka's face
is usually obscured in these flashback
scenes, we still see more of him than
we did in the original film (which kept
him completely off-screen for the first
half), removing some of the mystery
around the character.
Soon after comes the announcement that
five golden tickets have been placed
inside random Wonka bars. The lucky
kids who find them will win a lifetime
supply of chocolate and a tour of the
mysterious factory, plus one of the
kids will win an even greater prize.
This leads to a funny series of vignettes
where we meet the first four winners.
Augustus Gloop from Düsseldorf,
Germany finds the first ticket and is
a greedy fat kid just as Charlie's other
Grandpa, George, predicted.
England, Veruca Salt gets the second
ticket thanks to her rich daddy getting
all the women at his nut factory to
search for it.
Violet Beauregarde in
Atlanta, Georgia gets the third ticket
by switching from gum (her favourite)
to candy bars. She is introduced showing
her competitive nature by kickboxing
her much bigger sparring partners.
in Denver, Colorado video game obsessed
Mike Teavee finds the fourth ticket.
He managed to crack Wonka's system to
find the ticket - he doesn't even like
chocolate (which causes another outburst
from Charlie's irate Grandpa George).
With just one scene each, it's clear
how glutinous, greedy, proud and wrathful
the four kids are (to name just four
of the deadly sins).
hard not to root for Charlie, who only
gets one bar a year, to find the final
ticket. There is some attempt
at suspense - neither his birthday bar
nor another bar Grandpa Joe buys him
has the ticket, and there is the announcement
of a fifth winner (which later turns
out to be a fraud) - but it's still
a foregone conclusion that Charlie will
find the fifth ticket.
In fact, even if you haven't read Roald
Dahl's book or seen the 1971 film adaptation,
none of the plot is really a surprise.
It's obvious that the four bratty kids
will get their comeuppance and Charlie
will be rewarded with the ultimate prize.
The fun is in seeing how this all happens.
The kids and their chosen guardian all
arrive at the factory, each parent offering
their own form of support ("Eyes
on the prize, Violet" Mrs. Beauregarde
reminds her daughter). The official
introduction of Wonka cleverly subverts
the big entrance expected. Following
a puppet show introduction (the infamous
annoying "Wonka Welcome Song"
from the teaser trailer is perfectly
used here) that bursts into flames before
the end, Wonka casually appears beside
his guests watching the show along with
He reads some prepared cards awkwardly
and then invites the guests into his
factory (unlike in the first film, no
waivers are signed, which would presumably
leave Wonka open to all kinds of legal
action later on). They walk through
a seemingly tiny door and enter the
main room of the factory, where the
chocolate river flows. Then we catch
our first glimpse of an Oompa Loompa.
into the river and is sucked up into
a pipe, which of course he gets blocked
in. The Oompa Loompas then sing a song
about Augustus, showing their mastery
of improvisation. Augustus is finally
passed through the pipe his worried
mother goes to find him. One kid down,
four to go!
When the guests move onto a riverboat,
Wonka has his first flashback to his
childhood. The braces and headgear on
the young Wonka are very Burtonesque.
We learn that he was the son of a dentist
and that, after he had gone trick or
treating, his father burnt all the candy
final flashback later in the film reveals that Willy decided
to leave home and explore the world,
and his father warned him he wouldn't
be there when he got back. After an
amusing scene where it looks like Wonka
is traveling to many different countries
but is actually just walking through
a Flags of the World exhibit, the boy
returns home to find his house is completely
gone, leaving behind an empty space
in the row of houses like a tooth that has
been removed. It's probably the most
surreal moment in the film.
The high-speed boat ride is a visual
treat. The boat was on a gymbal to give
it convincing motion. On the tour, the
boat passes by various rooms (including
one where bovines are being whipped
- to make "whipped cream"
of course) and stops in the inventing
room. Wonka has created an everlasting
gobstopper that promotes hair growth,
but it turned the Oompa Loompa it was
tested on into something resembling
Cousin It from The
His latest invention (which comes out
of a ridiculously large machine) is
a piece of gum that tastes like a full
course meal. Of course Violet, who is
obsessed with chewing gum, tries it
before Wonka can warn her about the
side effects. When she gets to the blueberry
pie desert she turns blue and starts
to swell up ("Violet, you're turning
violet!" her mother exclaims).
The next stop is the nut sorting room,
where the spoilt Vercua decides she
wants one of the squirrel workers for
a pet. Veruca is attacked and sent down the trash hole as a bad nut. Animatronic and CG squirrels
were mixed in seamlessly with the real
ones for this scene. Training the squirrels
was a long and arduous process. The
filmmakers had to use fake nuts otherwise
the squirrels would have just eaten
Next Wonka takes the remaining guests
into the great glass elevator, which
can travel in any direction. They fly
past fudge mountain and candy being
fired into the air by cannons for no
apparent reason (exploding candy for
your enemies?) before entering the testing
room for Wonka's latest invention -
After Wonka sends a giant chocolate
bar from one end of the room to a television
on the other (where of course it comes
out much smaller) Mike is so incensed
that he has invented teleportation without
even realising it that he tries it out
himself. The inventive TV sequence includes Mike
in the shower scene from Psycho
It even manages to breathe new
life into an homage 2001: A Space
Odyssey, in an inspired scene with
a chocolate bar replacing the monolith.
After being tossed through various TV
channels accompanied by the last song
(which features the Oompa Loopas as
a hair metal and psychedelic band) Mike
emerges as a tiny version of his former
Of course, as Charlie is now the only
one left, he is the winner. Wonka takes
Charlie and his Grandpa into the glass
elevator, which then breaks out of the
roof of the factory. Outside, we see
the fates of the other kids. Augustus
and Veruca seem to get off pretty lightly
compared to Violet and Mike, who are
left permanently deformed.
The elevator crashes into the Bucket
home and Wonka reveals Charlie's prize.
Unlike in the
first film, Charlie doesn't immediately
accept ownership of the factory, because
it would mean he could never see his
Wonka visits Charlie again and the boy
convinces him that Willy needs to see
his father. The scene where Wonka visits
his father for a checkup (shot from
inside Willy's mouth) looks very similar
to the dentist scene in Little
Shop of Horrors (1986).
It's fair to say that, for most of its
running time, the film is, like the
candy that comes out of the factory,
sweet but rather lacking in substance.
When Wonka reconciles with his father
and learns from Charlie
the value of family, the film does finally
show its heart.
In the final scene,
while Willy and Charlie brainstorm ideas
over dinner with the Bucket family,
it’s revealed that their house
now resides inside the Chocolate Factory.
The narrator, who is revealed as an
Oompa Loompa, says both Charlie and
Willy got something special in the end.
While some might find this ending too
predictably heartwarming, it does end
the film on a high note.
The acting in the film is good
across the board. Depp gives another
out there performance that accentuates
Wonka's amusing eccentricities while
retaining his humanity. From his very
first appearance he puts a distinctive
spin on the character that banishes
all comparisons with Gene Wilder's Wonka.
And for all the talk of Depp resembling
Michael Jackson in the film, he comes
across far more like a slightly effeminate
mix of Ed Wood and Dr. Evil. Depp himself
used local children's TV and game show
hosts as his inspiration.
Unlike in the book, Wonka seems to have
a phobia of both kids and parents, reacting
with disgust when Violet hugs him and
being unable to even say the word "parents".
Like Pee-Wee he is a child in an adult's
body that clearly feels threatened by
anything to do with growing up or reproduction.
He also has the amusing habit of accusing
Mike of mumbling whenever the cynical
kid says something Wonka doesn't want
All of the five main children are perfectly
Highmore again displays the winsomeness
and chemistry with Depp that made him
stand out in Finding
Neverland. Though his character
is a little too bland and practical
(always thinking of others before himself)
Highmore makes him likeable rather than
The other four child actors excel
at playing what are basically nasty
caricatures. Mike Teavee almost acts
as the audience in some scenes, pointing
out how stupid and pointless many of
Wonka's inventions are. The fat suit
used for Augustus Gloop is pretty convincing.
The supporting cast is equally strong,
Taylor and Helena Bonham Carter
(sporting somewhat distracting false
teeth) all giving likeable performances
as, respectively, Charlie's Grandpa
Joe, father and mother. The great Christopher
Lee manages to bring both menace and,
later on, warmth to his role as Wonka's
dentist father, Wilbur. Missi Pyle (in
her second Burton film) gives an amusing
performance as Mrs. Beauregarde.
diminutive Deep Roy (who has appeared
in three Burton films in a row) is made
even smaller and seems to take great
pleasure in playing an army of digitally
multiplied Oompa Loompas. Some of the
dance choreography he performs is pretty
funny, especially the synchronised swimming
during the Augustus Gloop song. Roy rehearsed for three months to learn
all his moves.
The Oompa Loompas were
created through live action, animatronics
and some computer animation, but they
all have the distinctive look and mannerisms
of Roy. The British computer effects
crew had to replicate the actor up to fifty-seven
times for some shots.
The film mostly relies on visual comedy
(Wonka walks into the glass elevator
. . . twice!) but some of Wonka's dialogue
is quite memorable, especially lines
like, "Even I am eatable. But that
is called cannibalism dear children
and is frowned upon?" He also utters
doubles entendres such as, "Don't
touch that squirrel's nuts!".
Burton clearly revels returning to his
roots with a bright, funfair ride of
a movie. Once again he gets good performances,
especially from the child actors, and
keeps things moving briskly along. This
is clearly Burton in fun mode rather
than serious mode, but it suits the
It goes without saying the production
values are excellent. The gray, slightly
sinister world outside the factory is
perfectly timeless and placeless (though
it is a bit disconcerting to hear ostensibly
English people use terms like dollars
and band-aids). The slanted home of
the Bucket family recalls previous Burton
character's abodes. Aside from the Bucket
house, the homes could be in any generic
city. The almost black and white color
scheme of Charlie's world contrasts
well with the Oz-like factory.
The factory itself, built on the James
Bond set, is beautifully realised, using
mostly physical sets. It's refreshing
to see CGI used so sparingly in a modern Hollywood movie. The sets were built complete
with a 360 degree panorama for the most part.
of the factory is a riot of colour and
room we visit offers new delights for
the eyes (as well as a memorable end
for each of Charlie's rivals). It's literal eye candy at
its finest, though perhaps not as tasty
as the sets in the original film. The
exception is the riverboat, which actually
looks like it is made out of candy.
The filmmakers spent months trying to
find the right consistency of chocolate
for the river.
Danny Elfman's score is one of his most
enjoyable in years. However, the songs
he has composed for the Oompa Loompas
(using the lyrics from Dahl's book for each child's sticky end)
have mixed results. They are certainly
inventive (each one is in a different
musical style, some recalling Elfman's
Oingo Boingo days and one even referencing
Bollywood musicals) but the lyrics are
hard to understand a lot of the time
and consequently the songs sometimes
distract rather than add to the plot.
If the film has any theme, it is the
importance of fatherhood. Like Big
Fish, the film is all about parenting,
which was no doubt still on Burton's
mind following the birth of his son.
It also contains some familiar Burton
themes and motifs (though whether these
were deliberately put into the script
once he signed on or were just coincidental
is hard to say). The flashback structure
(three separate flashbacks that reveal
the main character's troubled past)
recalls Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow.
Willy Wonka undergoes therapy with a
silent Oompa Loompa analyst ("You're
good") it's possible Burton may
have related as he himself once went
to see a shrink who never said anything
As a pure sugar-rush of light-hearted
entertainment, it's almost impossible
not to enjoy the film. It won't join
the ranks of Burton's masterpieces,
but it's the kind of kid's film that
adults can equally enjoy. It has a great
mix of simple slapstick and gleefully
perverse humour, such as the squirrel
attack on Veruca Salt or the glimpse
of a burn unit for puppets.
The film does have flaws (such as Charlie
being a bit bland and the narrative
being predictable and not very exciting)
but those same criticisms could be leveled
at the book and original film adaptation.
It definitely doesn't reach the heights
of previous Burton/Depp collaborations,
but it's a visually stunning confection
that's twisted fun for all the family.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
generally received good reviews (compared
to most remakes) and was one of the
biggest hits of the summer of 2005,
earning over $200 million in the U.S.
and surpassing Burton’s Batman
worldwide. More importantly, unlike
Planet of the Apes it was a
blockbuster that most audiences actually
seemed to enjoy.
he was making Charlie, Burton
was also directing a stop motion animated
film, about a bride who has ceased to
be, an ex-bride if you will . . .
CHAPTER: BIG FISH
CHAPTER: CORPSE BRIDE