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CAN DEPP OUT-WONKA WILDER?
TIM BURTON TO DIRECT JOHNNY DEPP IN A REMAKE OF THE 1971 CLASSIC CHOCOLATE FACTORY FILM, BUT WHY???

Next summer, Hollywood will keep the remake machine going with a remake of Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.  With Tim Burton at the helm, and Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka, it's sure to be a more dark and sardonic take on the Roald Dahl book.  Or will it?  The 1971 original still holds up as an amazing, twisted classic, and Gene Wilder's performance was perfectly sarcastic and sly.  Had Burton done a better job with Planet of the Apes, I'd be a bit more excited about this project, but I don't see any reason to mess with pefection.  I'll admit I'm intrigued to see what Depp can do with such a juicy role as Wonka, but it's going to be pretty damn hard to top Wilder.

Even though it was filmed 33 years ago, the elaborate inner-world of the Chocolate Factory still holds up as amazing by today's standards.  I'm dreading a CGI factory full of crazy gizmos, enhanced Oompa Loompas flipping through the air, and new child actors that can't hold a candle to the original cast of brats.

Sure, it's using Roald Dahl's original book title, but Dahl himself was involved extensively with the 70s version, so it's not like they didn't get it right the first time. 

Here's an objective list of PROS and CONS to this project that I can come up with:

REMAKE ORIGINAL
ACTOR: Johnny Depp is a proven talent that can handle quirky roles with charm, and skill. ACTOR: Gene Wilder has already given a flawless performance leaving little room for improvement.
ACTOR EDGE?  DRAW This one's a tossup, with anyone other than Depp in the role, I'd be against it.  Thank god the rumors that Marilyn Manson would play the lead character didn't pan out.
MUSIC: Danny Elfman soundtrack and songs are always a plus. MUSIC: The songs are classics, but "Candy Man" makes me think of that scary movie where bees fly out of that guy's mouth.
MUSIC EDGE?  DRAW Elfman was born to do the score for this movie, but to come up with new songs that'll top the originals is going to be damn near impossible.
DIRECTOR: Tim Burton is great with original creative films, but floundered with his Planet of the Apes remake. DIRECTOR: Mel Stuart went on to direct TV movies and episodes of "Welcome Back Kotter"
DIRECTOR EDGE: REMAKE With Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Pee Wee's Big Adventure under his belt, this seems like a project custom made for Tim Burton.
CHILD CAST: All unknowns picked after a massive casting call.  Rumors persist that Charlie will be played by a cyborg cop. CHILD CAST: More unknowns, but they have certainly stood the test of time.
CHILD CAST EDGE: ORIGINAL The remake is going to be hard pressed to come up with a group of kids better than the original.  How could you get better casting than the kid who played Augustus Gloop?
SCRIPT: John August wrote "Big Fish", but also wrote both "Charlie's Angels" films SCRIPT: Original draft by Roald Dahl, and rewritten by David Seltzer (who wrote "The Omen" but also gave us "My Giant")
SCREENWRITER EDGE: ORIGINAL I give the nod to the original, for the simple fact that the original script was written by Roald Dahl, and Seltzer just rewrote it.  Dahl apparently hated the film, however, and refused to let them make a movie of the book's sequel.
SLEPT WITH DIRECTOR TO GET A PART IN THE FILM: Helena Bonham Carter SLEPT WITH THE DIRECTOR TO GET A PART IN THE FILM: Jack Albertson
SLEPT WITH THE DIRECTOR EDGE: ORIGINAL Though Helena is a tasty delight, one can't deny the loving arms of Jack Albertson.  From his sensual liver spots to the delightful way he'll write "I love you" on your inner thigh with his tongue, Jack Albertson is the superior casting couch trophy!
THE VERDICT?  With a score of 3-1, this scientific breakdown shows that the original will clearly be the superior movie.

And honestly, how they can top the wonderful scene where Gene Wilder as Wonka takes the kids on that wild and spooky boat trip through the tunnel of his factory is beyond me.  As the #19 scene in our 100 Scariest Movie Moments of All Time, it's one of my favorites.  Here it is, in case you missed it the first time around.


#19 WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)
WONKA ON A BOAT RIDE TO HELL!

A while ago, Saturday Night Live did a sketch parodying the 20th Anniversary release DVD of Willie Wonka.  While showing a bogus outtake from the famous boat scene, the actor portraying Wonka breaks character and exclaims, "This is supposed to be a kid's movie, RIGHT?"

As Wonka brings the kids and their parents on a boat ride, he begins shouting insane poetry (CLICK HERE to hear it) while nightmarish imagery is projected on the walls.  While just moments before the characters were delighted with giant lollipops and rivers made of chocolate, they know see such wholesome goodness as chickens getting their heads cut off, and enough psychotic LSD induced visions to bring Jerry Garcia back to life.  Many versions of the film were edited to remove the chicken head cutting scene, while when FOX Family Channel aired the film, the entire boat sequence was removed.

Needless to say, it still holds up.  When my kids were watching this for the first time with me last year, my 3 year old son thought it got too scary at this part and left the room. 

It'll be interesting if the rumors of Tim Burton remaking this flick are true.  Lord knows how twisted, he'll make it.

And let me just take a minute to praise the work of Gene Wilder.  Such a great understated comic genius, and from interviews I've seen, he seems like a genuinely kind and great man.

 

 

 

 

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