I have a confession to make. And although I know I am not alone in this sentiment, I am still a bit ashamed by it. OK, here it goes: As a child, I was terribly afraid of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971).
Many people say that Roald Dahl's original children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was meant as a children's horror story—a dark Grimm's Tale-like fable to scare kids into not being rotten, spoiled, overeating, gum-chewing, TV-obsessed little monsters. But I wasn't spooked by the punishments suffered by the kids in the movie. Instead, I just found the movie—and Gene Wilder as Wonka—generally creepy, trippy and weird. I just didn't get it.
As I've gotten older, I've grown to appreciate Wilder's darkly funny performance, his spot-on line delivery and the film's whimsical fantasy. But still, I remember my fear of that bizarre little factory. With that said, it intrigued me to hear the new version of Dahl's book would be directed by Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp, two guys with a bit of a resumé in creepy, trippy, and weird. And so, I viewed Burton and Depp as the two biggest wild cards in whether this movie would be any good.
It turns out that the duo has each succeeded in creating a fable that is not creepy or trippy, but just possessing a gentle weirdness (just wait for the scene with the "Small World" attraction) that is completely appropriate to Dahl's original book. In fact, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a charming, engrossing, and often laugh-out-loud funny fairy tale that captures the book's spirit while still marking its own territory.
Perhaps the best news is that Tim Burton didn't make this movie 5 to 10 years ago. Burton, now a father, is apparently thinking a ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This slideshow is only available for subscribers.
Please log in or subscribe to view the slideshow.