Charlie a delicious bit of summer cinema

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Remakes can be a tricky thing, but director Tim Burton hits a bulls-eye with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a delightful treat filled with stunning visuals and a lot of fun performances, headlined by Johnny Depp.

In this retelling of the Roald Dahl novel, Depp plays the reclusive candy maker Willy Wonka. As the film opens, Wonka has decided to allow five children a chance to tour his chocolate factory by putting five golden tickets in his chocolate bars.

One of the winners is Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), who lives in a tilted shack with his grandparents and his mom and dad and spends most of his time dreaming about the candy his family usually is unable to afford.

Charlie may well be the best-looking film I have seen this year thats even more visually appealing than the superb work by Robert Rodriguez in Sin City.

Burtons direction is sharp and the movie is a feast for the eyes. With each scene, Burton gives audiences another piece of a unique world from the tilted house of the Buckets, to the many rooms the children discover inside the chocolate factory. There are still five months left in 2005, but Id be surprised if I see a movie more deserving of Oscars for visual effects and art direction.

While the look of the film is the heart of Charlie, Depp and Highmore provide the movie with its soul. Depp has a lot of fun as Wonka. Some have suggested his performance mimics Michael Jackson, but I think it is much more original than that. Its delightful, yet creepy, and a performance that may top his goofy work in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Highmore is also very good, matching Depps quirky performance with a sweet turn as Charlie.

Charlie is sure to draw comparisons to the 1971 original starring Gene Wilder. As someone who only vaguely remembers seeing that film, its hard for me to compare it to this remake. I can compare Charlie to other 2005 releases though, and it is clearly one of this years most enjoyable.

Discount dandy of the week

This weeks discount dandy is Kicking and Screaming (B-) a surprisingly agreeable family comic in which Will Ferrell continues to display his comedic talents.

Ferrell plays Phil, a family man who has always been the whipping boy of his very competitive father (Robert Duvall). When Phil decides to coach his sons soccer team, the family competition heats up.

It would be easy to see this as another Lady Bugs, the really bad soccer comedy with Rodney Dangerfield and Jackee, but there is a bit of heart in Kicking and Screaming, with Ferrell and Duvall both giving nice performances.

Ferrell is capable of getting laughs even in bad films, but he gets some help here in an unlikely extended cameo by former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, who was a good enough sport to playfully poke fun at his tough-guy image.

Sure, Kicking and Screaming is filled with obvious cliches, but director Jesse Dylan keeps the film moving along at a brisk enough pace that the flaws dont really matter.

Kicking and Screaming is now playing at the Plaza 6, where all movies are $1.50.

Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton is on vacation this week, but he took time out of his busy schedule to write this review. Wont you take time out to e-mail Micheal at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.  Daily News ·813 College St. ·PO Box 90012 ·Bowling Green, KY ·42102 ·270-781-1700 

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