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?


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