Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Starring Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore. (PG)


Director Tim Burton’s occasionally dark reworking of Roald Dahl’s classic kids’ book is as much a treat as 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was based on the same tome. It is, of course, the tale of Charlie Bucket (Highmore), a boy who lives with his parents and grandparents in a tiny ramshackle house that sits in the shadow of eccentric Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The family is so poor that all Charlie gets for his birthday is a solitary chocolate bar, but this year there is the possibility of that bar containing something extra special – a golden ticket that entitles the holder to a tour of the factory. There are only five golden tickets though, and Wonka bars are shipped all over the world, so will Charlie win the prize of his dreams?

Like many of Burton’s films – Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Batman among them – this is a darkly visual feast, from the Buckets’ creaky little home to Wonka’s amazing factory, packed with sugary delights, chocolate rivers, squirrels who quality-check the nuts (a scene involving them whisking away one of the naughtier children may upset little viewers but delight older ones) and, of course, the Oompa-Loompas – those odd little men who work in the sweet factory (actually played by one actor, Deep Roy). All the cast are terrific (including David Kelly as Grandpa Joe, James Fox, Christopher Lee), but unsurprisingly it is Depp, as Wonka himself, who steals the show, delivering a performance that is sometimes creepy, sometimes innocent, partly crazed and utterly fantastic. 

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The scene in which squirrels drag off the naughtier children and the other punishments they suffer may frighten young viewers, while some may find Willy Wonka himself quite creepy and disturbing, and the Oompa Loompas equally so.

If you want to introduce a younger child to the wonderful worlds of author Roald Dahl, James And The Giant Peach may be a better choice.

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