If there is any living director who can do justice to the warped nature of Roald Dahl's "children's stories," it's Tim Burton. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn't the first time these two have "collaborated." Burton produced Henry Selick's animated James and the Giant Peach, but this time he's in the director's chair, with his favorite star in the camera's crosshairs. Although this movie is an adaptation of one of Dahl's best loved stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feels like Burton through-and-through - from the bits and pieces cut from Edward Scissorhands to an ending that hearkens back to the theme of father/son affection from Big Fish.
Let me dispense with the obvious comparison immediately: this version is more faithful and substantive than Mel Stuart's foppish 1971 production, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Somehow - probably because many of my generation saw this year-after-year on television during our youths - that overrated motion picture has become a classic. Dahl hated it, and it's no wonder why: the edgy became genial, Willy Wonky was transformed into a father figure, and the Oompa Loompas sang lame songs (okay, so one or two of those tunes are catchy). In making this movie, Burton shoulders aside Stuart's film and returns to the source material. The result is faithful enough to have earned the Dahl family's seal of approval.
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