With Hollywood rampantly remaking movies for no reason other than being broke for ideas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory rises above because its story - written by children's author Roald Dahl - is one deserving of a real retelling. The original film from 1971 was a campy Technicolor acid trip for kids. This time around, director Tim Burton mixes in a dash of Dickens with his usual brand of dark humor, making his film feel more like Harry Potter than H.R. Pufnstuf.
The Oompa-Loompas, for instance, are nothing like the orange midgets in the original. Burton has them all played by Indian actor Deep Roy (thanks to digital technology). It is at once humorous and unsettling to see so many versions of this tiny man with his watery black eyes. The Oompa-Loompas' musical numbers are especially surreal and fun.
Johnny Depp plays an entirely different Willy Wonka. Wonka is more than a tour guide this time - Depp takes us right to the root of Wonka's weirdness. While a comedic actor like Jim Carey would have made Wonka come alive more, Depp's understated performance better fits the tone. He's a neat blend of Edward Scissorhands and Pee Wee Herman.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is well-paced and full of nuances that make it enjoyable for adults as well as children.