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Show of hands, all of you who prefer the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the one with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Okay, you can put your hands down.

Now, hands up, those of you who prefer the 2005 Johnny Depp version, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. All right, hands down.

How many of you liked the movies equally?

How many couldn’t stomach either one?

When I saw the Gene Wilder version as a kid, the movie seriously creeped me out. Wilder’s Wonka was too mysteriously devilish; Augustus Gloop getting stuck in the pipe was horrifying and made me feel claustrophobic; the Oompa Loompas were too freaky with their orangeness and moralistic songs; most of the kids were brats, and Charlie was a little too much of a simp. As I got older, I grew to appreciate the movie more, but there’s still an uncomfortable edge to it.

Last week, Hubby and I had an opportunity to watch the newer Tim Burton version. (Yeah, yeah, we’re behind the times.) We were blown away. Yes, the movie had creep factor, but there were enough tongue-in-cheek moments (“I was having a flashback”) and Depp’s performance as Wonka was so psychologically subtle and vulnerable that the creep factor was mitigated. Plus, this version anchors Wonka with a past (the poor kid who had to wear the dental contraption!) and shows what happens to the naughty children at the end. (You never find this out in the first version.) And the Oompa Loompas, all played by the same guy, are hilarious. Come to think, the grandparents are hilarious, too. There also seems to be more pointed social commentary in the second version, particularly in relation to factory workers.

By far, my favorite scene in the movie is the one with the squirrels. There’s something inherently funny about squirrels, but the fact that these are trained to sort good nuts from bad, and the expressions they take while doing it makes them especially so. And when they go after Veruca and scurry her over to the garbage chute … that’s priceless!

I’ve never read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but this second version of the movie has me wondering which, if either, of the movie versions is closest to the book. Anyone have an opinion on this?

Also, let me know which movie version you like better in the comments, please!

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