Bite me, Johnny Depp.

So, let’s start by stating for the record that Tim Burton is a genius. I love the whole dark and twisty, yet quirky thing.

And Johnny Depp? Mostly, I don’t have a bad word to say about him. Loved Gilbert Grape and Edward Scissorhands, not too keen on the whole pirate thing but everyone has an off day.

So, that settled, we can move on to the really important question – what’s the BEST version of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? We watched both movies this month, courtesy of the Tots100 Film Club, so we are obviously uniquely placed to make an expert judgement (cough).

In the red corner we have the 1971 classic Willie Wonka, starring Gene Wilder. And in the blue corner is Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Mr Depp.

I have to say in my view, there’s no argument. It’s Willie Wonka ALL the way. How so?

First up, the book’s called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, right? It’s a story about Charlie. But in the new movie, it’s all about Johnny Depp and his Performance (and it’s a Performance with a capital P). Whereas in the 1971 version, the story is really about a kid called Charlie. Just as it should be. And don’t even get me started on how annoyingly PERFECT the kid in the new movie is. Ugh. I hate that kid.

Also, let’s talk about Willie Wonka, shall we?

Gene Wilder totally gets that Willie is basically demented. But he’s also kind. He invited children to his factory because he wants one of them to take over. So he’s broadly pleased to see them – and disappointed when they don’t work out. I think Johnny missed that memo – his Willie is just mean. And he looks like Marylin Manson. Gene Wilder is debonair, in crushed velvet. Who doesn’t want to be THAT guy?

Possibly the most egregious offence of the new film is the small people. I mean, what the heck was Tim Burton doing with the Oompa Loompas? Why is there only one actor playing every single Oompa Loompa in the new version? I’m sure it can’t have been a budget issue. Annoying. Basically, when it comes to an Oompa Loompa, I want it bright orange, with green hair. End of story. 

Then there’s the music. Yes, I get that Burton’s tunes are clever and witty pastiches of 80s disco or whatever, but can you sing any of them right now? Bet you can’t. But I guarantee you can belt out a few lines from I’ve Got a Golden Ticket, or The Candy Man Can, or I Want it Now. Heck, I can even do the dance to the last one. That’s what a film song should be – catchy, and timeless, and perfect for singing when ever so slightly merry.

Maybe I’m just middle-aged, and now that things are starting to sag and I am finding grey hairs, I’m basically programmed to think the old days are better, but I just think I’d have more fun in the 1970s Chocolate Factory than I would in Tim Burton’s imagined land.

How about you?



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. 1st May 2012 / 8:41 am

    No, no, no, no, no, you are wrong! We loved the Johnny Depp version. I agree about the Ooompa Loompas – having lots of that one chap was plain creepy, but the children loved it! Danny Elfman’s film score is genius and, as always and fits the film perfectly. The Gene Wilder film is too nicey, nicey and generally a bit meh!

    Sorry, definitely a case of middle-agedness on your part 😉
    Amy recently posted..Tots100 Film Club – Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryMy Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 11:14 am

      I’d agree with you but then we’d both be wrong.

  2. 1st May 2012 / 8:58 am

    Johnny Depp’s ‘Willy Wonka’ really creeped me out. There was something deeply sinister about him and he’s definitely not the kind of guy kids should be taking sweets from.

    I’m not a Roald Dahl fan overall, but definitely prefer the original film by a very long way (and I’m 27 with no grey hairs yet so no middle agedness factor here).
    Eleanor Mum/Me recently posted..I haven’t even prepared a speechMy Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 11:15 am

      Quite – he’s REALLY creepy, right?

  3. 1st May 2012 / 8:58 am

    Just reviewed this as well for the Tots100 club – I think there is a place for BOTH films – one dark, twisty and full of angst, the other light, fluffy and jam packed with catchy songs and orange oompa loompas.

    Or, it could be that Mr Depp is swaying it for me?????

    The kids have loved watching both films!
    Super Amazing Mum recently posted..Royal Premiere of Disney’s African CatsMy Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 11:15 am

      Oh, you are SO shallow. I would never watch something just for eye-candy *hides entire DVD collection*

  4. 1st May 2012 / 9:49 am

    I was hugely disappointed with the Johnny Depp version when I saw it in the cinema. It was WRONG WRONG WRONG! What was that whole dentist business eh? Not right, not in the book and not needed!

    Mind you, the Gene Wilder version isn’t perfect either – I was never happy with the fact they made him and Grandpa Joe steal the lemonade (or whatever it was) – they didn’t do that in the book and it’s not right!! But that’s just a small gripe against a film with great staging, perfect casting and brilliant songs (seriously – singing Oompa Loompas – what more could you need?!)

    I’m with you – Willy Wonka all the way.
    geekmummy recently posted..Why is this school stuff so hard?My Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 11:16 am

      Quite. Roald Dahl was peeved with the lemonade thing, wasn’t he?

  5. Vic
    1st May 2012 / 10:56 am

    I am so with you !

    • 1st May 2012 / 11:16 am

      Good-o. So basically we all agree Amy is wrong, right?

  6. La
    1st May 2012 / 11:32 am

    My vote goes to Johnny & Tim every time (altho i am biased to the holy trinity of Burton-Depp-Bonham C).

    I can’t watch Gene Wilder in that movie – he’s creepy and a bit mean and the whole affair gives me the reet willies.

    (Also here’s proof that Burton’s music works: the moment I read your mention of it I got the bloody Violet Beauregard song in my head. )

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:32 pm

      Hmm. You’re probably just not trying hard enough to love Gene.

  7. 1st May 2012 / 12:12 pm

    Can’t and won’t watch the Tim Burton one. *shudders* WHY would you watch something with children that is so blatantly creepy?
    The boys watched it once with horrified rabbit-in-headlights stare, and it has since been rotting at the back of the DVD shelf, nicely collecting dust on behalf of the forgotton corner.
    Gene Wilder ALL the way.
    Laura Hitchcock recently posted..Spotted! Totally *want* This Tea TumblerMy Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:33 pm

      Flea was a bit like that with Coraline.

  8. 1st May 2012 / 12:19 pm

    Those horrible flashbacks to Johnny Depp’s childhood where he had to wear an evil contraption to sort out his teeth. Not good in a children’s movie. Unless you want to use total scare tactics to make your kids brush their teeth.

    Totally not helpful if you live in America where braces are the destiny of pretty much every child.

    The Johnny Depp version sucked the joy out of the story. But Gene Wilder is just a little creepy too, honestly. Perhaps it’s just impossible to play a character who is mysterious, weird, and wants to choose a kid to give away his factory to, in an age which is suspicious of people’s motives towards children.
    Iota recently posted..Update on ticket situation, and Garrison KeillorMy Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:33 pm

      Dental stories aren’t really a big hit with me, as regular readers will understand.

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:33 pm

      Hurrah – another vote for me! Is there a prize?

  9. FeeHorne
    1st May 2012 / 1:15 pm

    On the whole, I think I agree with you interms of sheer enjoyment. Depp’s Wonka was just a bit too creepy and I didn’t understand the whole dentist thing either, although I do admire the whole staging and look of the film. Also, the glorious Helen BC can do very little wrong in my eyes.
    I think, though it might just be an urban myth, that the reason they only had chap playing all the oompaloompas was because of a small trilogy being filmed in NZ at about the same time which scooped up all the shorter actors it could. Something to do with Lords, wizards, rings and elves and hairy creatures.

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:36 pm

      The look of the film is glorious, I agree. And Burton’s chocolate river did at least look like chocolate. I’d better not say what the other film’s chocolate river looked like. But I definitely didn’t want to eat it.

  10. David
    1st May 2012 / 1:46 pm

    Willy Wonka for me. But that’s because that’s the one I grew up with. I compared the TB version to the original and there’s really no contest. The new version manages to detract from a decent story and just focus on shiny shiny flashy flashy.

    But then if I hadn’t seen the original maybe the new one would have been ok.

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:36 pm

      Only ok, though. The old one is a triumph of big musical numbers and ever so slightly shaky effects. How can you not love that?

  11. purplemum
    1st May 2012 / 7:23 pm

    Ok we defiantly need a v-log of that dance ! That is all.

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:37 pm

      Unlikely. And by unlikely I mean “never going to happen”.


  12. 1st May 2012 / 6:46 pm

    I loved the book when I was a child and left it at that. Seriously though, I did see the Jonny Depp version somewhere (can’t remember where) and didn’t really like it. Maybe I should seek out Gene Wilder and co mpare.
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Sensible Baby NamesMy Profile

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:37 pm

      Yes, you should.

  13. Nikki
    1st May 2012 / 7:03 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I think the responses so far clearly demonstrate you are correct!! 🙂 And I concur. Depp – far too dark – although I read somewhere that Roald Dahl wasn’t pleased with Gene’s version as it wasn’t dark enough, but surely Depp’s takes it too far the other way?

    I still sing the orginal version’s songs all the time and very recently saw an ad campaign for Jaffa cakes featuring lickable wallpaper in a lift (yes really: ) so of the two versions – Wilder definitely won the battle and will remain there for the foreseeable future.

    • 1st May 2012 / 7:37 pm

      Ah, lickable wallpaper. Genius. Just genius.

  14. TheBoyandMe
    1st May 2012 / 9:16 pm

    Personally I prefer Gene Wilder’s Willy 😉 (ba-boom tish) but apparently Roald Dahl was not happy with him and didn’t like the film; not dark enough apparently.

  15. Laura B
    2nd May 2012 / 3:32 pm

    I am unsure if I have ever commented before but this post made me come out from lurking. I agree with you 100% Willy Wonka is my all time favourite film and when Charlie and The Chocolate Factory came out I was unsure whether I should watch it, well I did, I wasted hours of my life on some weird and bizarre kids horror show. I was very disappointed and it marred the original for me.

  16. Louise Blake
    9th May 2012 / 10:52 am

    I have to agree with you! I prefer the 1971 version all the way! Gene Wilder is brilliant – and there’s just more magic and sentiment behind the original version. Although I do love Johnny Depp!

  17. DaddyScott
    16th May 2012 / 8:48 am

    Just read the above review and have to say I agree 100%.

    From the first time I watched the new version I couldn’t believe how odd it was, but then that fits with Burtons style perfectly. How Roald Dahl could say the original movie was not enough like the book to be allowed to be called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is beyond me, I thought the original movie nailed it.

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