Old vs New: Willy Wonka
September 22nd, 2009
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to, and welcome to another installment of Old vs. New.
The title card is shown, featuring an old man crossing his cane with a little boy's baseball bat, as dramatic music plays and lightning strikes.
NC: You wanna know what I love: Tim Burton.
NC (Voiceover): Every time you see a movie by him, you know it's always gonna be dark, strange, and goofy. That is, except when he reimagines stuff. We all know what a powerhouse remake Planet of the Apes was, so I wasn't very enthusiastic when he was remaking one of my childhood favorites: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I REALLY thought it was gonna blow. You can't top the original. No way, no how.
NC: But much to my surprise...I was totally right.
[Clips of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are shown]
NC (Voiceover): Not that it was the WORST film, but I just don't think it held a candle to the original. But is this just the thoughts of a stubborn curmudgeon, or is there really something there that I'm missing?
NC: Well, let's take a look back. This is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory vs. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
[The opening sequence features pictures of the characters from both movies, playing to the music of the Oompa Loompa songs from both movies, ending with the title card, Willy Wonka vs. Charlie.]
NC: So, let's get down to the main star himself. [Beat] That is, the main star of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory because his name's in the title. [Beat] Even though that movie was more about Charlie, and that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was ironically more about Willy Wonka, sort of a marketing mistake, in my opinion. They should've thought a little harder. I...forget it.
Round 1 - Best Willy Wonka
[Clips of both Wonkas are shown]
NC: (Voiceover) These are two of my favorite actors: Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp. Every time you see them, they're a ton of fun to watch, playing a ton of different characters, ranging from kind and innocent [meaning Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands] to psychotic and ...
Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein: LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE!
NC (Voiceover): ...more psychotic. But which one is the best Wonka? Well, let's take a look at Wilder. He has the ideas and ambition of a child, yet the mind and demeanor of a James Bond villain.
[A picture of a James Bond poster is shown called The Candy Man, with Wilder's Wonka pasted in, and James Bond music playing in the background]
NC (Voiceover): Every time you see him, you feel welcome, but also a little disturbed. When you look at him, you have no idea what he's thinking. You just know that he already has everything planned out.
Wonka (Mel Stuart): Two naughty, nasty little children gone. Three good, sweet little children left.
NC: (Voiceover) You can tell he has patience, but only for the people and ideas that deserve it. Everything else turns into a blueberry.
Wonka (Mel Stuart): Ahhhh!
NC: (Voiceover) So, yeah, he's pretty fucking demented. But he was also suave, elegant, mysterious, and when he needed to be, very kind. This gave him an edge, and a lot of both children and adults to identify him and join him for the ride. Johnny Depp, on the other hand...
Wonka (Tim Burton): You smell like...old people.
NC: ...hurt me!
NC: (Voiceover) Now, don't get me wrong. I love Johnny Depp. And I'm all for reinventing what the Willy Wonka character is like, but I have NO idea what he's doing here.
Wonka (Tim Burton): I always thought a Veruca was a type of wart you got on the bottom of your foot. Ha-ha!
NC: (Voiceover) I guess the idea is that he's a lost child in a grown man's body, due to his past, but nothing about him is consistent. He sends out Golden Tickets to find the right child to take over his factory, but when they arrive, he seems totally uninterested in them.
Violet (Tim Burton): Mr. Wonka, I'm Violet Beauregarde.
Wonka (Tim Burton): I don't care.
Augustus (Tim Burton): Don't you want to know our names?
Wonka (Tim Burton): Can't imagine how it wouldn't matter.
NC: Maybe because they'll be running your SHIT!
NC (Voiceover): The Gene Wilder Wonka was fun to be around, always cracking jokes while having a diabolical edge to him. This Wonka just annoys the fuck out of me.
Wonka (Mel Stuart): Where is fancy bread, in the heart or in the head?
Wonka (Tim Burton): The best kind of prize is a sur-prize. Ha-ha-ha!
NC (Voiceover): It's sort of like watching a friend act really bad in a play, but you're in such a world of awkwardness that you can't tell him.
Mike (Tim Burton): Who wants a beard?
Wonka (Tim Burton): Well, beatniks for one. All those hip, jazzy, super cool, neat, keen, and groovy cats. It's in the fridge, Daddy-O. Are you hip to the jive? Can you dig what I'm layin' down? I knew that you could. Slide me some skin, soul brother.
NC: Yeah, uh, that was good! That was good.
NC (Voiceover): Plus, why does he look like a mix between Marilyn Manson and that Russian chick from Indiana Jones 4?
Wonka (Mel Stuart): We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
Wonka (Tim Burton): Ha-ha! You're really weird!
NC (Voiceover): Johnny, I love you, but everybody has to have at least one bad performance, and unfortunately, this is yours.
NC: Point goes to the Wonka version.
Wonka (Tim Burton): That's weird.
Round 1 - Winner - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
NC: But what about the supporting cast? Which one is truly more scrumdidlycom...scrumd...scrumpapi...scrumdid... (pause) scrumdid...
Round 2 - Best Supporting Cast
[Montage from both versions]
NC: (Voiceover) In the Wonka version, all the kids are great actors and reflect the bratty stereotypes of the time. In the Charlie version, they pretty much got that down, too. In fact, they updated. Mike Teevee is more obsessed with video games than he is with television, and his parents are a lot more careless, like the kind of hapless people who wouldn't mind letting technology raise their child.
Mike (Tim Burton): DIE, DIE, DIE!!
NC: (Voiceover) I also like the update with Violet, as they make her a winning-obsessed champion, and not just a gum enthusiast. The mother is updated, too, reflecting kind of a perfect soccer mom who pushes her daughter's victories to the nth degree. That's a little bit more of a modern problem than a girl who just chews a lot. How about Grandpa Joe? Both are different, but both seem to be supportive and strong. Especially when it comes to prancing out their bed-ridden sheets, fucking figures.
[Cuts to footage of Dr. Strangelove standing up and everybody looking]
Dr. Strangelove: Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!
[Cuts to the normal montage]
NC: I think I like the Wonka Grandpa Joe a little better because he was a tad more stubborn, which made him all the more supportive. But did they really have to make him sing?
'Wonka' Grandpa Joe (singing): I never dreamed that I would climb over the moon in ecstasy. (Grandpa Joe walks to the window and opens it) Good morning! Look at the sun!
[The scene pauses and a tomato flies in from the window and hits him in the face]
NC: (voiceover; as an angry neighbor) SHUT UP!
NC (Voiceover): How about the Oompa Loompas? Well, I've got to say I like the Wonka version again. Why? Well, how do I put this? Even though Deep Roy is a really enjoyable actor and he has a big task playing every single Oompa Loompa. Just to erase from your mind for a moment that you've ever heard of an Oompa Loompa yet. No idea what it is. Which one of these would be an Oompa Loompa? (Shows a picture of an Oompa Loompa from the Charlie version) Is this an Oompa Loompa? No, that's just a little person made even smaller. (Shows a picture of an Oompa Loompa from the Wonka version) That's a fucking Oompa Loompa. Orange face, green hair, weird as hell. No contest. But for me, the big deciding point is Charlie himself. And I'm just gonna come out and say it: (Shows Charlie from remake) I hate this fucking brat. I'm sure he's a nice kid and he's acted well in other movies, but he is a frickin' saint in this picture. Does everything right, never thinks of himself, he's a damn boy scout.
[Montage of Charlie in the remake]
Charlie (Tim Burton): We need the money more than we need the chocolate. Candy doesn't have to have a point. I wouldn't give up my family for anything. Usually, they're just trying to protect you, because they love you.
NC: (voiceover) Every time I see his precious little smile, I just wanna deck him.
Wonka (Depp): What makes you feel better when you feel terrible?
Charlie: My family.
[NC blocks his ears and growls in annoyance]
NC (Voiceover): The old Charlie was a lot more realistic. He was a nice kid, but he was still a kid. He would get sad, he would get angry, and there's even moments where he would get greedy.
[Montage of Charlie in original]
Charlie (Mel Stuart): I want it more than any of them. Well, in case you're wondering if it'll be me, it won't be. Just in case you're wondering, you can count me out.
NC (voiceover): You don't look down on him for it, we just know it's all part of being a little boy. (Shows Charlie in remake) This kid could try out for Jesus.
Charlie (Tim Burton): I'll share it.
Grandpa Joe (Tim Burton): Oh, no, Charlie. Not your birthday present.
Charlie (Tim Burton): It's my candy bar. And I'll do what I want with it. (breaks candy bar apart and gives it to everyone)
NC (Mocking Charlie; voiceover): Do this in memory of me. (normal) Also, his performance is pretty bland. But what do you expect when you pretty much have no juicy material to deal with?
[Montage of Tim Burton's Charlie]
Charile: Sure. Of course! Can you remember the first candy you've ever ate? The gates are always closed.
NC (Mimicking Tim Burton's Charlie): Aren't I just charming? Ah-ha-ha...
NC (Voiceover): Seeing how Charlie is one of the main characters as well as the focus of the story...
[Johnny Depp's maniac laughter in the elevator scene is shown]
NC (Voiceover): ...well, should be...I think it's only fair to give credit where credit's due.
NC: Point goes to the Wonka version.
Wonka (Depp): Mumbler! Seriously, I cannot understand a single word you're saying.
Round 2 - Winner - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
NC: But you can't have a musical adventure without music! Otherwise you just have...an adventure! Which would still be pretty amazing...in fact, maybe even more amazing because you don't wanna have all that damn music around annoying you. [A few moments of awkward silence] I, I need something to off awkward this.
[Tim Burton's Wonka sticks out his tongue and makes a funny noise]
NC: Thank you! This is Best Music.
Round 3 - Best Music
NC (Voiceover): Now the songs from Willy Wonka are known by pretty much everybody. They're catchy, they're timeless, they're household tunes.
[Footage of song sequences from Wonka movie are shown]
Candy store owner (Singing): The Candy Man Can.
Mrs. Bucket (Singing): Cheer Up, Charlie.
Grandpa Joe and Charlie (Singing): I've Got a Golden Ticket!
NC (Voiceover): So who do you get to try to match songs like those? Well, the guy who did the music for The Nightmare Before Christmas is pretty good. Composer Danny Elfman has practically done all of Tim Burton's movies. So it was pretty lucky that he also happened to be a songwriter. But how can you compete with songs that everybody knows and loves? Well, their solution was actually pretty clever. The songs don't appear until they enter the factory, and are only sung by the Oompa Loompas. But with every song they sing, they try a new decade of music. They start off with the 50's mambo...
Oompa Loompas (Singing): Augustus Gloop, Augustus Gloop, the great big, greedy nincompoop.
NC (Voiceover): ...a 60's disco...
Oompa Loompas (Singing): She goes on chewing till, at last, her chewing muscles grow so vast.
NC (Voiceover): ...a 70's hippie song...
Oompa Loompas (Singing): A rather different set of friends.
NC (Voiceover): ...and an 80's rock homage.
Oompa Loompas (Singing): A fairyland, a fairyland! His brain becomes as soft as cheese, his thinking powers rust and freeze.
NC (Voiceover): Now that's a really clever idea. The only downside is that the songs, while entertaining, are pretty short and, to be honest, not very memorable. That is, except for...
[The famous, catchy, and somewhat irritating Wonka's Welcome Song song is played]
Candy Dolls: Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka, the amazing chocolatier...
[NC blocks his ears and groans in annoyance]
NC (Voiceover): This song tormented so many people months after they saw this flick. It's so catchy, you'll bleed your brains out of your ears.
Candy Dolls: With so much generosity, there is no way to contain it! To contain it! To contain, to contain, to contain! Hooray!
[NC is frowning at his best while blocking his ears]
NC: But enough of that. [The song continues to play] I said enough of that! [The song still plays] For God's sakes! At least play something else!
["It's a Small World" is played. NC cries and blocks his ears again. Depp's Wonka laughs]
NC: Shut up!
NC (Voiceover): But how does the rest of the music fair out? Well, they both seem to match the tone they're trying to say. Wonka's is a bit more whimsical and smooth. [The music score from the original is heard] Where Charlie's a bit more quirky and deranged. [The music score from the remake is heard] But if I have to choose, I really do have to go with the original Wonka version. No disrespect to Elfman, but these are just classic, memorable, perfect songs. I wouldn't expect anybody to top them.
NC: Again, point goes to Wonka.
Wonka (Tim Burton): Once again, you really shouldn't mumble, 'cause it's kinda starting to bum me out.
Round 3 - Winner - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
NC: But if there's anything you think Tim Burton will be able to outdo, it's the visual style. I mean, this is the guy who said: "Hey! You know what that guy needs? Fucking scissors on his hands. That'll make the movie work.". But is it good enough to save this reimagining? Let's take a look at Visual Style.
Round 4 - Best Visual Style
[Footage of both movies are shown]
NC (Voiceover): This one really is like apples and oranges, because they both have very distinct looks. The look of the Wonka movie has sort of a timeless feel, almost like it could take place anywhere. But to be fair, the Charlie version does, too. Burton really knows how to take our modern day world and make it look like something out of a fairy tale. The cinematography and sets are just so exaggerated, they're absolutely perfect. But in a sense, that's also a problem with the film. The first half is so cleverly set up and visually clever that it actually kind of loses its edge when it goes inside the factory. There's a few too many things going on, so it's a little too dark to make everything out. In Wonka's version, you could see everything fine. And the strangeness was a great contrast to the typical everyday world we saw in the first half. But the Wonka version has problems, too. The film does have sort of a 70's tin to the whole thing. And on top of that, the effects were good at that time, but are now a tad outdated. The chocolate river looks more like liquid feces. It always looked like color water and it still does.
Mr. Gloop (Mel Stuart) (Looking at the river): It's polluted.
Wonka (Mel Stuart): It's chocolate.
NC: No, it's not.
NC (Voiceover): The Charlie version looked a lot more like chocolate. I mean, it really looks like you can eat that stuff. That, and they did actually get the proper design of what a Gobstopper looks like. I mean, what the fuck are those (Wonka's Gobstopper)?
Wonka (Mel Stuart): Can't you see? It makes Everlasting Gobstoppers.
NC: No. That's a radioactive paperweight. I'm not sure what you smoked to see Gobstopper.
NC (Voiceover): In the Charlie version, the factory never did look quite right, but at least it did look more like a factory, particularly in the opening credits. A close call, but I am gonna go with the Charlie version. They just have more money, more time, and a visionary nutball to make it all look good.
NC: Point goes to the Charlie version.
Veruca (Mel Stuart): He's absolutely bonkers.
Round 4 - Winner - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
NC: But again, it all comes down to story. Which one tells their tale the best? Well, let's not wait any longer and dive right in.
Round 5 - Best Story
NC (Voiceover): While both versions seriously deviate from the book, I give credit that they both create their own vision of what they're trying to say. As I said before, the Wonka version is more focused on the Charile character and the Charlie movie is ironically more focused on the Wonka character. Isn't that strange? And I have to be honest, I went into the Charlie version expecting to hate it. But when it started, I didn't find it that bad. It seemed creative and felt like it was trying to start its own unique version and it actually kind of worked. That is, again, until Depp showed up.
[Depp's Wonka laughs]
NC (Voiceover): But then again, the Charlie version is almost banking on the fact that you saw the other version. The scene where Grandpa Joe walks is almost glanced over, and like I said before, Charlie is so underdeveloped, you could pretty much just run the movie without him. He's pretty much a footnote next to Wonka. The film also shows a lot more, like, I never really wanted to see Loompa Land. I had my own vision of what a vermincious knid looked like and it did not look like that thing.
NC (Sneering): In fact, I still have my kindergarten drawing of what I thought one originally looked like.
[A child's painting of 'Dad' and 'Mom' growling and tearing off a kid (presumably NC) in half with blood splashing]
NC: I had issues.
NC (Voiceover): It also bothered me how we don't know if the kids survived in the Wonka version, yet we clearly see them survive in the Charlie version. I think the message sticks much more to kids when you don't know it they survived, but there's still that possible out that they did. There's also no Slugworth, but I wasn't really in the book anyway, and there's also no outburst at the end which seemed to really put Charlie's innocence and kindness to the test. Now granted, though, the Charlie version did update a lot of plotholes. Like, why shrink down a giant piece of chocolate that could make like 50 bars into one? In this (Charlie) version, they actually say they want to teleport it through television, which is a lot more clever. They also explained that Wonka is looking for children to win the golden tickets, not adults. I mean, how did he know in the other version that, coincidentally, five children and not five adults would find the tickets?
Wonka (Mel Stuart): I'm a trifle deaf in this ear. Speak a little louder next time.
NC (Voiceover): But what really gets me are the morals. That's probably the weirdest part. The moral of the Wonka version is just always be good and true to yourself and one day you'll get your reward. Simple enough. The moral of the Charlie version, I guess, is to always be a kid at heart but be an adult in your mind. Don't spend your adult life being a little child. But that's more of a message for grown-ups, isn't it? You know, unsuccessful comedians. But like I said before, the number one problem with the Charlie version is that it was about Wonka, and it shouldn't be. Charlie is the focus and the character kids can identify with. Wonka is more like Merlin, or Mr. Miyagi. He's interesting, but he's not the heart of the story. That has to belong to the main character, which is Charlie. His name is in THE TITLE OF THE BOOK, for crying out loud! Though I don't hate it as much as I did in the past, it's clear which one is the superior version: The Wonka version.
Wonka (Mel Stuart): It's Wonkavision.
NC (Voiceover): The old, the original, the timeless classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Wonka (Tim Burton): Ha-ha. No way.
Round 5 - Winner - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
NC: So the old wins this time around. And as a special treat, here's the original music from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to play us out.
[However, the irritating Wonka's Welcome Song song is played again, annoying NC]
NC: No. No! NO! Play something else!
["It's a Small World" is played again. NC yells]
NC: SHUT UP! Play something else!
[The catchy "DuckTales" theme song is played. NC cries out]
NC: Something else! God! Something else!
["Doug" theme song is played. Guess what happens]
NC: All right! Enough is enough! This is the final...this is the very, very last straw! Who is responsible for this...this?! I demand that you show yourself! WHO ARE YOU?! HUH?!
[The scene is paused. Douchy McNitpick from Top 11 F*ckups appears and just paused the Nostalgia Critic video and giggles. A Duck Amuck reference is made]
Douchy: Hehehehehe! Ain't I a stinker?