Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, July 05

IF YOU ASKED ME TO THINK of reasons that you should see this movie, I guess I would have to say for the Dickens-like Bucket family, for the chocolate scenery, and for the theme of goodness. And for the singular question from Charlie Bucket’s grandfather: Why would you trade something so special for something as ordinary as money?

But while the reasons for not seeing it are only one, it is reason enough. That would be Johnny Depp playing the weird and creepy Willy Wonka. With his capped teeth, high-pitched voice, and borderline insanity, Wonka is a disturbing personality that does not belong in a family movie, or any movie, I don’t care how successful his factory is. Part of the problem is that the script falls short of defining the limits of his character. So Depp’s portrayal leaves us wondering if he is as evil as the story implies, while his every eerie intonation makes our imaginations run wild and could give children nightmares.

These are the years of Hollywood remakes. Based on the books by Roald Dahl, Charlie is preceded by the 1971 Willy Wonka film starring Gene Wilder, which I considered watching—until the Depp version made me lose interest. If Hollywood is making new versions of old movies, they should at least make them better. This is a dark story that eventually brings in the light, but by that time it’s way too late to appreciate it.