Why The Original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is Better: Change My Mind

When I was a kid, I really loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Mel Stuart). I remember watching it like every night for a week while I visited my dad over a late 2000’s summer. It’s an incredibly comforting movie even at the age of twenty; when I’m having an overly bad day, I pop my DVD copy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Mel Stuart) into my laptop and sing along to every single song and say every line as it’s being said. Needless to say, it’s probably one of my favorite movies.


On the other hand, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Tim Burton)? Garbage.


Maybe that’s a strong stance to take, but I’m 100% right! When I would watch it as a kid, I would just get so grossly uncomfortable. I never liked it and honestly just found it creepy and too much of a variation on the original. It may have the same title as the book, but it feels like the concept was taken and then everything actually good about it was thrown away in order to be creepy. Thank you, Tim Burton. If you don’t believe that the older movie is better, let me give you some reasons why. 


First, let’s address the obvious: Gene Wilder vs. Johnny Depp. All horrific facts about Johnny Depp aside, he was not a good Willy Wonka, and he certainly did not live up to Gene Wilder’s legacy. Gene Wilder really was the perfect Willy Wonka: he was likable and funny while also being weird. It was like Depp changed the character of Willy Wonka entirely, switching from quirky and confusing, yet still immensely charming to an awkward, uncomfortable, and rude. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that Depp’s Wonka is a likable character. The flashbacks and personal aspects of Depp’s Wonka were also, like, incredibly stupid and uncomfortable. I actually hated every part of the flashbacks. 


Secondly, the cinematic differences are really what sets the mood for the movie, which is why Tim Burton’s is just so weird. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Mel Stuart) is bright and colorful and inviting. The scenes also were generally more pleasing to the viewer; the scene in which Willy Wonka comes out is in and of itself one of the best scenes in the original movie. Wonka’s performance of the feeble walk, somersault, and enthusiastic greeting of the kids and their guests is just so charming and reflective of Wonka’s personality. In Burton’s movie, the whole first exchange with the puppet show and Wonka’s scripted greeting is just so not what you want to witness in a movie. That scene alone shows the stark difference in the tone and quality of the movies. Willy Wonka (dir. Mel Stuart) also uses the traditional methods of special effects while Charlie (dir. Tim Burton) is so heavy on CGI that it actually cheapens the experience of the movie. 


Third, there’s the music. One of the great things about the original film is the songs (yes, even “Cheer Up, Charlie”) which give such a comforting aura. The musical elements are what make the characters so shockingly alive and real - “(I’ve Got A) Golden Ticket” shows us the bright side of Grandpa Joe, “Pure Imagination” gives us more of Wonka’s quirky personality as well as his love for what he does, and “I Want It Now” brings Veruca Salt’s bratty character to its full potential. In Burton’s film, there aren’t musical elements beyond background music and the Oompa Loompas’ cryptic songs. This really flattens the film, making the characters impossible to relate to and takes the whole comforting environment that the original film had. 


Don’t even get me started on the Oompa Loompas. What the fuck even happened to the Oompa Loompas in Burton’s film? They’re weird looking (which is saying something, considering they were tiny orange men in the original film) and add to the unease and discomfort of the film. One of the funniest parts of the original film was Wonka talking about who the Oompa Loompas were and how they came to his factory, confusing literally everyone. Wonka is telling what appear to be lies with the most confident air about him, stating the odd facts of the world in which the Oompa Loompas lived previously as though it’s obvious. In Burton’s film, we see little flashback snippets of Wonka in Loompaland, which cheapens the world of the movie so much. The whole gimmick with Loompaland was that of course it wasn’t real, it’s not on any maps, but here’s Willy Wonka stating the existence of the land like it’s common knowledge. It’s funny and charming, while Burton’s flashbacks just ruin that experience. 


Again, don’t even get me started on the Oompa Loompas. 


All in all, I have a great love for Tim Burton films. The Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas are staples in the memories of so many kids and adults. However, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was just one big miss. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tim Burton, but this movie is straight up garbo. Just watch the original.