Have you ever seen a movie that just makes you smile? When you're driving home from the theater and you're in that happy mood? Well, that's what I experienced when I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this week!

I truly have to say this is one of the best movies I've ever seen. Now, that is coming from a fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Ok, so putting that aside, I'll try to be "fair and balanced."

Johnny Depp's performance in this film is dead-on to what I think of when a dark Willy Wonka. And no, Johnny Depp is not Gene Wilder and Mel Stuart (director of the original "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory") is certainly not Tim Burton, so the comparisons can stop now. Yes, I will agree that the original film is a cult classic and should be treated like that, but it's not the same movie and it's not the same feel.

Enough of my rant, let's talk about how fantastic this movie is. Back to Johnny - some of his comebacks to comments are priceless, his mannerisms make you laugh out loud. And just his sheer presence on screen and to the other characters is plain humorous! One line from the trailers still makes me laugh - and that's just because of the way it's delivered.

I'll move onto the sets; people, people, Tim Burton is a pure genius. The man built everything, from the inside of the factory to the 'chocolate' river (made of brown toothpaste) to the sideways curved house that the Bucket's live in. Who else thinks this up? Seeing these rooms on screen is amazing; you're blown away at how creative and innovative Tim is. And not only that, mostly everything was edible inside the factory! Now how cool is that!!

Something else only Tim Burton would do - train real squirrels to crack nuts and throw the shells on the floor. Yes, 100 squirrels were trained for one scene - and not a single one was harmed.

On to the other actors. If you've never seen "Finding Neverland," get it. Not only for the simple fact it was one of last year's best films, but you're introduced to Freddie Highmore who just happens to be 'Charlie' in this film. Of all the other kids who find the 'Golden Ticket,' he's the only normal looking one. And that's not to say he's just any old normal kid actor; this 13-year-old kid will blow your socks off. He makes you really feel for Charlie. As for the other four lucky kids who found the Golden Ticket, three of them had never acted before. When I read that after I had seen the movie, I was shocked! The only one to have prior acting experience was Annasophia Robb, who plays Violet Beauregarde - a spoiled rotten British girl. And that prior experience - one movie, "Because of Winn-Dixie." These children were brilliant!

But you can't forget about the Oompa-Loompa's (or should I say the one real Oompa Loompa). Tim Burton hired Deep Roy to play thousands of the tiny factory workers. He sings, dances, plays female and male Oompa Loompa's; he basically does everthing - and does it well!

I truly enjoyed myself before, during, and after seeing this film. And you will, too! It's definately family friendly! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is in theaters July 15th; it's rated PG.

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