Fuse #8

Friday, April 28, 2006

Willy Wonka Frankenstein

So I'm at a hip Brooklyn bar called The Gate yesterday with my friends and the subject turns to children's books turned into films. More specifically, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Even more specifically, how to salvage the two versions of the book produced over the years. On one hand you have the classic 1971 film and on the other you have the recent 2005 Burton creation. Now I can hear the catcalls and jeers emanating from your darling little throats already. But I think that with a little judicious editing and work, we can combine the two films and bring about the perfect Wonka flick. A big bow to Dan for helping me iron out these details.


  • Names - The only reason the 1971 film was called Willy Wonka was so that Quaker Oats could put out chocolate bars under that name and get a movie tie-in as a bonus. So we're taking the title from the 2005 film and the original book.
  • Songs - Frankly, Willy has Charlie beat. I'm a big fan of Danny Elfman and I give props to the fact that he used Dahl's original words. But come on. If you saw the film can you remember a single tune from that puppy at all well? Now sing me a little "Oompa-Loompa" action. Oh yeah. That's the stuff. I can give you some fabulous "I've Got a Golden Ticket" karaoke, as well as "Pure Imagination", if needs be.
  • ... But not ALL the songs... - Nobody need ever subject a child to yet another rendition of "Cheer Up, Charlie". Ditto "Candyman". Apologies to Sammy Davis Jr. and all, but seriously. It's served its use. We all know it's about drugs. Let's move on.
  • Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka - It just makes sense. Obviously Johnny Depp was trying to separate himself from Wilder's original Willy. And neither of them seem anything close to the fellow in the book (who, according to the discription, is supposed to bear some slight resemblance to a young goateed Joel Grey) but at least with Wilder you get this crazed innocence. He's insane, but you like him. Not so much the Michael Jacksonish Depp with his ridiculous backstory. Plus I find Wilder far hotter than Depp. That is because I am crazy.
  • Remove all backstory - Why on earth would we want to know why Willy makes chocolate? The last half hour of the 2005 film was atrocious obvious filler. In contrast, the filler in the 1971 version was peculiar news footage and bizarre noir scenes that showed just how important the golden tickets were. Remember the woman who's husband was kidnapped and the kidnappers demanded her box of Willy Wonka candy bars? No? Go see the film again then. It's one of the more peculiar details. So if we must have backstory, let's do it that way.
  • No little orange men with green hair - Obviously the '71 crew didn't want to offend anyone... except possibly midgets. I didn't go for the Oompa Loompas of the 2005 film completely, but at least they were fairly faithful to Dahl's book. No women (which was odd) but still okay. I mean, the ones in the book were pretty offensive to begin with, yet you can't tell the story without them. Just give them the original songs and all is well, yes?

So there you go. Add a pinch of this, a dash of that, and a smidgen of what-have-you and Voila! Instant correct version. Weirdo wacked out version, yes. But better.


At 12:32 PM , Blogger Leila said...

Get rid of the original Charlie, too. I could never stand him. He's just so... UGH.

And I am SO with on "Cheer Up, Charlie". My sister and I would always fast-forward through that part.

At 1:08 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

I had a friend with a younger sister who at random points in any given day would burst into an overly earnest, "Cheer Up, Charlie". It makes me like the song a little more than I should.

At 4:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the Willy Wonka Violet had the "I Want it Now" song, which is one of my favorite moments.

(Listen to the DVD commentary for the Willy Wonka movie-the grown up child actors do the commentary, and it's fun to listen to.)

At 7:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved, loved, loved that book. I was so excited to see the movie (the Gene Wilder version). I saw it and was crushed, crushed. It was all wrong.

I've never recovered.

In case you couldn't tell. :)


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