Sunday, July 17, 2005

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka

Johnny Depp delivers a weird performance as Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Weird, oh yes, but nothing short of brilliant. Watching him, I was reminded of "The Wizard of Oz," another enduring masterpiece. Depp's Willy Wonka is both the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West, with a bit of Frank Morgan’s Wizard thrown in for good measure. He smiles beguilingly, frowns at certain questions, gets jiggy with the Munchkin-like Oompa-Loompas, and tells one of the children he dislikes to “stop mumbling” -- even though the boy speaks quite clearly. With his powdered face and page-boy hairdo, he looks like a bizarre combination of Edward Scissorhands and Mamie Eisenhower. Depp’s perfect comic timing and nuanced vocal inflections also add to his unique interpretation of this fantastic character – and he uses both superbly when delivering such silly lines as, “Little girl, don’t touch that squirrel’s nuts.”

Believe me, folks, this performance is one not to be missed.


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