Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

15 July 2005

I had a great day today.

I took off early from work to meet strangers for lunch. That is, I met people I only knew via the internet. In the past, I’ve worried about meeting netfriends — “Will they be the same in person?” I wonder. They’re not. Over the years, I’ve learned that people are almost always even nicer and more interesting in person than they are on-line.

A bunch of geeks had gathered in downtown Portland for Webvisions, a technical conference. At their lunch break, I joined Alan (of bluehole.org), Cat (whom I’d met previously), Paul/PB (who is responsible for the wonderful ORblogs), Matt (who is responsible for much of my lost productivity — he’s the mastermind behind Metafilter and its various spinoffs), and Michael (of whom I knew little before today). We chatted about life over burgers and cokes. It was great to finally meet these people. (And, Tammy — Alan’s a nice guy; you two shouldn’t bicker).

As I walked back to my car, I realized I was near Citizens Photo, one of the professional photography shops in town. I needed a couple of things, and I had some questions, so I stopped by. The fellow who waited on me was actually helpful (I’ve had problems there before), and I was in a rather assertive mood: the combination yielded much information about digital photography, camera equipment, and photoprocessing technique. I’ll have to be assertive more often. I left the store with a new monopod (which can double as a trekking stick), a spare battery for my d70, and two books on processing digital images. I also spent some time chatting with the woman in the photofinishing department, learning what my options are for printing digital photos.

Driving home, I passed the Moreland Theater and noticed that Charlie and Chocolate Factory was playing. “Huh,” I thought to myself, and stopped to see if I could catch a matinee. There wasn’t one to catch, but when I checked at the Oak Grove theater, the show had just begun so I bought a golden ticket.

When I got home, I called Hank and left a message asking if he wants to go see the film. “It’s not scary,” I said. “It’s not even intense.” Actually, maybe it’s a little intense in the nut-sorting room (which is my favorite scene, by the way).

Kris heard me on the phone and stormed into the room. “You are a dead man!” she shouted, but I didn’t know why. “You knew I wanted to see that, and you went without me.” Kris loves Roald Dahl almost as much as Joel does. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of her favorite books. I protested that I was just trying to prolong my good day. “Find another showing right now,” she said. So I did.

“The ticket woman’s going to wonder if I’m crazy,” I said.

Kris shook her head. “She won’t even notice.”

As I paid for the tickets, the ticketwoman gave me a funny look. “Weren’t you here for the last showing?” she asked.

And so I’ve seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory twice already, and plan to see it once more this weekend. Do I like it? Yes, I do. Very much.

To understand that terse review, you need to understand a couple of things:

  1. Though I enjoy Roald Dahl, I am not what I would term a “fan”. I especially like Danny, Champion of the World and The Fantastic Mr. Fox (the latter of which will soon be a film by Wes Anderson — how’s that for exciting?).
  2. I generally dislike Tim Burton‘s films. Ed Wood? Left me cold. Sleepy Hollow? Awful, awful movie. Planet of the Apes? One of the worst films I’ve ever seen. In fact, the only Tim Burton film I’ve liked before this is Edward Scissorhands, though admittedly I was quite fond of that.
  3. Though I thought the trailer for this film was awesome, I went in with low expectations.
  4. I’d heard all the talk about how Johnny Depp was channeling Michael Jackson for his portrayal of Willy Wonka

A slightly longer review would be: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is great fun, better than my memory of the first film. Johnny Depp is not channeling Michael Jackson, and I’m not sure where the reviewers pulled that from. They should be shot for making the comparison. (Depp’s Wonka is freaky, though — be warned.)

The first thirty minutes of this film (up until they enter the factory) are as near perfect as any adaptation of the book can hope to be. The introduction of each of the kids is fantastic. Kris, the Dahl fan, was giggling with glee at spots. “They got Veruca exactly right,” she whispered to me. The factory is an awesome spectacle. It’s great fun. The nut-sorting room made me giddy with joy. There are plenty of sight gags all around.

I spend a lot of time complaining about movies, so it’s refreshing when I can recommend one. This is the third movie I’ve seen this summer that I’m happy to recommend. (The first two being Batman Begins and War of the Worlds.) Go see it!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my second sleep study. C-PAP machine, here I come…

Comments

On 15 July 2005 (07:33 PM),
Kris said:

Jd negelected to mention that during our showing, the speakers were having intermittent problems that made it impossible to understand the dialogue but left the music track untouched. As a result, we each received a free movie pass on our way out. It’s like seeing Willy Wonka for free!

On 15 July 2005 (09:40 PM),
Betsy said:

I got dragged to this today (comedy of errors that necessitated my accompanying my rabid fan daughter, who read the book as her first-ever chapter book, no less) expecting to merely endure it. I loved the book, but am not a fan of kid movies in general, kid movies at the theater in particular, and don’t really appreciate Tim Burton or Johnny Depp. (yes, I called myself a ‘sour puss’ on my own blog earlier today…)

Uh – I had to eat my words. Thoroughly enjoyed it, loved the Oompa-Loompa(s) most of all. And the adults in the theater were in hysterics during most of the bits that left the kids cold or doing the ‘huh?’ shrug.

On 16 July 2005 (12:05 AM),
dowingba said:

JD for the love of all that is good and holy…didn’t I warn you about all this background music you seem obsessed to put on your site? ARRGH. And this is an MP3, think of the dial-up users! Won’t somebody please think of the dial-up users?!

On 16 July 2005 (07:07 AM),
alan said:

It was great meeting you, JD. Funny that you mention Tammy — I almost asked you to bring her along in an email, but decided not to scare her again.

I’m glad to hear about Willy Wonka and am considering going to see it in the IMAX at OMSI. With the exception of the dreadful Planet of the Apes, I am a huge Burton/Depp/Elfman fan, so it shouldn’t be difficult for me to love this one.

You and Kris should come over this summer. My wife makes incredible mojitos.

On 16 July 2005 (07:20 AM),
J.D. said:

JD for the love of all that is good and holy…didn’t I warn you about all this background music you seem obsessed to put on your site? ARRGH

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

I told Kris that I was committing an Internet Sin when I posted this. But I don’t care. I love this frickin’s song! :)

On 16 July 2005 (09:24 AM),
Hopeless Romantique said:

The nut room made me giddy as well; I never forgave the original movie for completely forsaking that part. I also loved recognizing the dialogue that came straight out of the book.

On 16 July 2005 (09:33 AM),
Paul J. said:

JD,

Might be too freaky geeky for you but FYI

http://www.freegeek.org/geekfair/index.html

On 16 July 2005 (10:35 AM),
Tammy said:

Alan, thanks for thinking of me. I’m not sure if I have come to terms yet with the nicer, more gentle Alan. The world is a scary place and the internet world is so very unpredictable. But if JD says you are a nice person than I have to assume you are.

Maybe someday we will meet. I just hope it’s in a lighted area with lots of people around. (just kidding)(kinda). And, hey, I’m glad you guys all had fun at your internet gathering. That really would have been cool.

On 16 July 2005 (11:57 AM),
Drew said:

Hey! That’s my t-shirt!

On 16 July 2005 (09:20 PM),
Lynn said:

Glad to hear it’s good. I’m anxious to see it. I hadn’t heard the “channeling Michael Jackson” comment. Though, I did read somewhere that the characterization was based on Marilyn Manson much the same way Jack Sparrow was based on Keith Richards. Can’t say I’d recognize Marily Manson characteristics if I saw ’em, though.

On 17 July 2005 (10:08 AM),
JD’s Electrician said:

Good site JD! I will try to save the exhaust fan, but we are going to have to get rid of the garden hose splice covers in the panel that I know you like. :(

On 17 July 2005 (06:26 PM),
Amy Jo said:

We spent a grand afternoon watching the film at the old, but recently refurbished (I think), theatre in St. Johns. Paul was neglected as a child–he hasn’t read a single Roald Dahl book . . . Poor, poor thing.

On 19 July 2005 (08:54 AM),
Amanda said:

The squirrels were always my favorite part of the book and by far the best part of the movie. “I guess she is a bad nut after all!” made me squeal with delight.

My only criticism of the movie would be the overly poppy Oompa Loompa songs… I felt they should have been chants, but whatever. The movie was great fun.

I’ve heard a lot about the Michael Jackson channeling, but I also did not really see that. I didn’t hear Marilyn Manson but I would be very surprised if that is true… I’ve seen Brian Warner in many an interview and no, I do not see it. A friend of mine mentioned both Carol Burnett and Ed Sullivan. While I’m iffy on Carol, I definitely felt the Ed Sullivan presence.

And dowingba, I think you’re the last person on earth with dial-up. Get high speed! It’s worth it!!!

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