Last night I splurged and came home with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on DVD. Now, I must preface this with the fact that I couldn't imagine anyone making another version, since the Gene Wilder version is one of my top 3-5 movies of all time. But when I found out Johnny Depp would be Wonka, well I was willing to keep an open mind, since Edward Scissorshand is also on my top movie list.
I made myself a BIG bowl of popcorn and settled down to watch. Gus the cat jumped up and seemed to enjoy the first half but napped during the second half.
I have to say that for a great deal of the movie I was full of exclamations about the scenery and the casting. Parts of it were overdone - I think the bratty nasty kids don't really have to be so completely over-portrayed but I guess it helps with the notion that this is fantasy.
I loved the whole Bucket family and Charlie himself. A kid I'd like to know in person.
The chief disappointment was with the Willy Wonka character's portrayal. As played by Depp, the character seems driven by the normal childhood trauma - flashbacks, bad memories and outrageous orthodontic devices. What's up with that? Rather than being an eccentric genius with some appropriately eccentric behavior, Depp's portrayal was all about the dark side and candy-genius as retribution for parental behavior. His inability to say the words 'parent' or 'family' -- total silliness. All in all a little too dark and not faithful to the book.
I thought about it later, and in thinking about the two movies as light and dark versions of the same tale, I would have liked to see Gene Wilder in a similar, darker portrayal. I think he would still not have been so angst-driven.
I am still giving it a thumbs up, but the Wilder version stays in my top movie list without challenge. At least in the Wilder version, Wonka liked kids (if they weren't of the bratty variety) and didn't act out of his own neurosis.