CAN DEPP OUT-WONKA WILDER?
TIM BURTON TO DIRECT JOHNNY
DEPP IN A REMAKE OF THE 1971 CLASSIC CHOCOLATE FACTORY FILM, BUT
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
Here's an objective list of PROS and
CONS to this project that I can come up with:
Depp is a proven talent that can handle quirky roles with charm, and
Wilder has already given a flawless performance leaving little room for
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.
Elfman soundtrack and songs are always a plus.
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.
Burton is great with original creative films, but floundered with his
Planet of the Apes remake.
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
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?
August wrote "Big Fish", but also wrote both "Charlie's Angels" films
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.
WITH DIRECTOR TO GET A PART IN THE FILM: Helena Bonham Carter
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
THE VERDICT? With a score of 3-1, this
scientific breakdown shows that the original will clearly be the superior
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
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
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