Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wonka gives me the Willies.

What do you get when you remake a flick?
With scenery bright, and the CGI thick?
What do you get when you’re so out of step?
Memories smashed by Burton and Depp?

Childhood lost forever…

Oompa Loompa Doompity-Doo.
In Willy’s voice there’s something askew.
Oompa Loompa Doompity Deep…
Something about him gives me the creeps….

Now, let it be known, for public record that, overall, I liked both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But there’s nothing funny or clever or witty or insightful about liking something. That’s fine for moviegoers, but not for critics. The job of a critic is to be *negative,* to be *critical.* To meet everything that is pure and beautiful and funny and enjoyable with a haughty raised eyebrow, crossed arms, and a lips contemptuously pulled back into a smear. The job of the critic is to use lofty latiny or frenchy sounding words like “oeuvre” and “magnum opus” and “frommage l’escargo pluribus unum.” The job of a critic, most of all, is to make clever demeaning puns using the movie titles. Like, say, “Fantastic Fart” or “Bad News Bears Bares Bad News Badly.”

Many movies have subtle messages woven into them. For example, the basic message of Jurassic Park was, “Dude. Don’t try to resurrect dinosaurs from extinction and put them in a modern day secluded theme park and hire a corrupt computer expert”, which is a lesson we, quite frankly, can all learn from.

Here are several of the messages woven into Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

1)Play Lotto. ESPECIALLY if you’re poor. Now, some people may say you’re wasting your time, or wasting your money, and that you should spend it on other things like “food” or “utilities” or “insulin,” but don’t let their negative Nancy attitude deter you. There’s always a chance you may win. And if you do, for goodness sakes, don’t spend it on something ‘responsible.’ Splurge! You only get one go-around at life, and you should make it short as possible.

2) Don’t listen to your Dentist. Dentists are evil, kids! They never want you to have *any* fun. Braces are shackles. Toothpaste is the opiate of the massess. Flossing is what the *man* want’s you to do. Instead, eat candy! (But not too much.)

You’ve probably already heard about the plot. Willy Wonka grows up psychologically scarred from having Count Dooku as his father and dentist. (“You have chosen the way of PAIN!” his father bellows as he tightens Willy’s braces.)

Willy runs away from home and starts his own Chocolate Store, gradually, through a series of shrewd competitive business strategies, malicious mergers, blitzkrieg buyouts, insider trading, and by selling what is possibly the most addictive substance on earth- he creates the largest chocolate Empire in the world. Of course, there were mysterious accidents. The CEO of World Famous Chocolate found dead with an everlasting Gobstopper stuck in his throat, the fire that consumed Hershey, Pennsylvania triggered by an errant squirrel, and the allegations leaked to the press that Mr. Goodbar had been using Charleston Chew.

Soon Wonka reigned supreme. The cold-hearted chocolate baron, however, was always looking for ways to increase his profit margin. He turned his merciless eye to his employees. He’d already cut all the benefits that he could think of. Medical. Auto. And especially Dental. He could make even more money, he realized, by hiring workers from across the border. While it wasn’t exactly legal, the immigrants from Oompa Loompa Land would work for cheaper wages, longer hours, and most of all- they could dance Man! they could dance..

Later, Wonka sends out five golden tickets, hidden within five Wonka bars.

Chaos ensues. There are massive lines. Riots in the streets. Fires. Forgery. Leaked Information. And that was just over the newest Harry Potter book.

The tickets cause quite a stir as well, and soon the Golden tickets are discovered by five different children, one finds one because he eats a lot of Chocolate, another finds one because she is competitive, another because she has a rich Dad, another uses an algorithmic approach to reverse engineering the likely destinations based on mathematical probabilities and string theory. And one, Charlie, wins one because- hey!- he’s the protagonist!

That’s when the movie starts getting weird.

Willy Wonka isn’t your typical egomaniacal businessman. He’s a pale-faced, socially-challenged, childish creep of a man, with hints Peter Pan Syndrome, narcissism, repression, schizophrenia, denial, delusions of grandeur, mood swings, avoidance syndrome, obsessive-compulsion, anti-social personality disorder, and B.O. (Although, as a friend of mine might say, on the plus side, he *does* have nice teeth.)

In layman’s terms, Wonka is a few snozzberries short of a snozzberry bush.

And this movie is about this guy trying to give kids CANDY.

I SAW FILMS ABOUT THIS IN FOURTH GRADE! “If a man tries to lure you into his mysterious factory, using offers of Candy, just say “NO!” Even if he promises the candy will have nougats.

The movie takes a disturbing turn from there, like a Slasher film meets the Yellow Submarine music video. In a way, it’s like the movie Se7en (pronounced Sesevenen). One by one, creative poetic justice is payed out upon those who transgress. Except instead of popular sins like “murder” or “adultery” these sins seem less… well… mortal.

Gum Chewing? Greed? Liking TV? Gluttony? This is America! We don’t have the Statue of Lipid-ity swaying back and forth over New York for nothing.

Nevertheless, like a perverse Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, one by one, the children are offed in cruel and unusual ways. Let’s just say that you’ll never look at a squirrel the same way again. The children survive- like the son in the Monkey’s Paw- but each are mutilated beyond repair. That’s just what you get… for chewing gum. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

I can just see the personal injury lawsuits.

“Now, Violet, can you please state for the jury exactly *what* the accused turned you into?”

“A… blueberry, sir.”

“And did Mr. Wonka have a PERMIT for transmogrification? Did he even keep Violet refrigerated so she didn’t spoil? Did he spray her with pesticides to keep the bugs away? No! No! And No! Mr. William W. Wonka- if that is his *real* name- might have well have prepared a giant pool of *pancake batter*!

As to this movie compared to the old one… let’s just say I was… Wilder… about the old one. Gene was insane in a happy, whimsical sort of way. Depp’s insane in an “I just might add some human babies into my chocolate stew” kind of way.

And don’t even get me started on Oompa Loompas. If you really want me to get filled with righteous anger, get me started on Oompa Loompas. First of all- this is a fact, you can look it up on Encarta- Oompa Loompa’s are orange. And they have a certain song that they sing. It involves the word Oompa Loompa. It’s not technically synthesized or fused with Danny Elfman vocals. It’s a simple song, that says the word Oompa Loompa a lot. Possibly Doompity Doo. But definitely Oompa Loompa.

Oompa Loompa’s are not, experts agree, Indian Midget Variety Actor clones dressed in silver jumpsuits.

Of course, the biggest change is the ending, which has the typical Tim Burton twist:

Charlie finally escapes from the nightmarish topsy-turvy funhouse world of the Chocolate Factory. His last sight of his grandfather is of him being swarmed by Oompa Loompas brandishing Miltary-Issue Lolipops. “Run, Charlie!” his grandpa yells in between blows, “I can’t hold them off forever!”

Charlie stumbles out into the rain, dazed. Wearily, we staggers over to the nearby Lincoln Memorial. As he stares up into Lincoln’s eyes, a flash of lightning reveals the frightening truth. Lincoln’s face is that of an Oompa Loompa.

Charlie falls to his knees in despair, “NOOOOOOOOO! Dang them! Dang them all to heck!”

Now if I could trouble you for a stick of gum? Yes, I’ll take the blueberry one.