Thursday, July 28, 2005

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, rated a family-friendly PG for bearing no resemblance to the story of Michael Jackson.

I broke the rules this time and actually saw this movie BEFORE I wrote the review. Then again, that wasn't so much a "rule" as it was something I just blurted out during lunch one day and turned into a blog, so it's probably ok.

I admit I had some concerns about this movie. Wasn't it kinda obvious that Johnny Depp's creepy, pasty-faced Wonka was just a stand-in for creepy, pasty-faced Michael Jackson and that the freak asylum of Wonka's factory was just a metaphor for the freak asylum of Neverland? And wasn't it pretty obvious that Fizzy Lifting Drink was just another way of saying Jesus Juice and Veruca Salt was just Priscilla Presley? Anyway, that's what I was worried about, especially the Veruca Salt part.

It turns out my fears were all in vain, because this movie is true to the original story. For those of you who aren't familiar, here's the premise: an adorable and obviously special little boy, Charlie, grows up with a poor but supportive family in a dingy little town called Gary, Indiana. The members of his family struggle to get out of bed, and when they do, it's just to perform as a funky R&B band known as The Chocolate Factory.

Despite their best efforts, The Chocolate Factory just doesn't catch on and as a result are forced to eat cabbage soup every night. Then, there's some contest involving tickets of some kind, but none of them wins. Other better behaved and wealthier kids do. I'm not even sure why this part was in the movie.

Anyway, they soon discover that Charlie, the youngest child of the Five, can really, really sing and he's a natural dancer. In fact, he's so good and crowds love him so much, that they're soon forced to change the name of the band to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Despite some initial pangs of jealousy by his older, greasier, less talented brothers, pretty soon Charlie has the group at the top of the charts, and the money starts rolling in.

That's when the problems start. Charlie's brothers can't handle success well and start hitting the sweets pretty hard: gobstoppers, blueberry chewing gum, edible flowers, you name it. Soon, people on the street start thinking they're some kind of Al Roker tribute group. Meanwhile, the boys overbearing father pushes them to do more and more gigs, which of course means that Charlie's brothers ride the Brown Horse (you know, chocolate) even harder.

One day, Charlie declares that he can't take it anymore and leaves the band. Without Charlie, The Chocolate Factory fails to produce another hit record but instead hires an oompa-loompa to replace their brother, and although he's pretty good, he just doesn't have Charlie's chops. Their pitiful attempt to tour with the oompa-loompa as a front man ends one night when their new lead singer infuriates the rest of the group with a patronizing song scolding them for all their chocolate eating. He was never seen again, which is fine because no one likes a goody two-shoes.

Despite this setback, Charlie on his own goes on to make "Chiller," the best-selling record in history and becomes a hundred times bigger than The Chocolate Factory ever was. From there, it's all smooth sailing for Charlie, who becomes a productive, contributing member of society (who has a nose), after having his no-account, trifling brothers killed by calling in a favor from NASA's Death Ray division, who owed him a favor for a little help he had given them on solving a particularly tricky engineering problem around the time "Chiller" was released. He eventually becomes Governor of California and solves all the state's problems.

Then some creep gives him a factory and his life gets complicated and heavy. We are left with mixed emotions, but don't want to say anything because we're afraid he'll use that awful Death Ray on us too.

Overall, this movie surprised me for its complete lack of resemblance to the Michael Jackson story and the fact that NASA will just kill guys for you if you're their friend. On a scale of "Man in the Mirror" on the low end to "Billie Jean" on the other, I give this movie a "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough."

2 Comments:

Blogger Jim Roth said...

You are out of control. Dibs on The Island.

10:54 AM  
Blogger lennyalexander78095826 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:56 AM  

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