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The world of chocolate dreams



`Charlie and the chocolate factory.'

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Genre: Children's film
Director : Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Freddie
Highmore, Helena Bonham- Carter, David Kelly
Storyline: Poor little Charlie Bucket gets a chance-of-alifetime tour of enigmatic Willy Wonka's chocolate factory
Bottomline: Watch this with a bar of chocolate; you're bound to need it

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" gives you a golden ticket into the aesthetically pleasing, candy-coloured world of Willy Wonka: where you can fall into the plush grass you walk on and take big, delicious mouthfuls, where a chocolate waterfall churns out a frothy river of the best chocolate in the world and fluffy clouds of thick cream come out of black and white cows that are rigorously whipped by funny little Oompa Loompas.

And that's not the best part. Johnny Depp as the ingenious, quirky Mr Wonka outdoes his edible treat of a chocolate factory. The character created by Roald Dahl in the book of the same name becomes a complex, over-the-top inventor who lives for his creations, in the hands of Depp. So much more than anything funnymen Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler (who were considered for the role) could do.

Jackson-inspired

The actor who famously inspired his character Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean" with the mannerisms of Rolling Stone's Keith Richards, this time seems to have drawn heavily from Michael Jackson — the same smooth brow, the coloured lips and the fantastical world that he has created for himself.

Only, when Mr Wonka invites five children with golden tickets on a day trip through his factory, he doesn't patronise them or indulge their youth, in fact he expects the opposite.

But four of the five are prototypes of bad behaviour. Veruca Salt is spoilt rotten; Augustus Gloop, a glutton, Mike Teavee, a precocious, condescending anti-social and Violet Beauregarde is unbearably competitive. And then there is wonderful, considerate little Charlie, too good to be true. He is played by Freddie Highmore, who was recommended by Depp after his performance in "Finding Neverland." A good part of the movie is devoted to Charlie, after all, this is his story. It is a wonderful insight into the poor but happy life he lives with his parents, the Buckets and their aged parents.

Despite their poverty, they teach young Charlie to dream and hope. However, that isn't the most interesting message. In Mr Wonka's world, all you bad children will meet scary punishments, no matter how precious you think you are.

The lack of child-proofing in the factory and Mr Wonka's lack of concern for the unfortunate fates of the children give the movie a menacing, dark edge that disappointingly dissolves when director Tim Burton offers an explanation for the weird confectioner with a flashback to an unhappy childhood. It takes away from the character of Mr Wonka, who didn't need an explanation. Like his candy, that doesn't have a point.

Watch out for the Indian connections. Actor Deep Roy plays all the Oompa Loompas. And in the beginning, an Indian prince called Pondicherry orders for a castle made of chocolate. The result, a rich, dark, ornamental wonder called the Taj Mahal.

SUSAN MUTHALALY

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