CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (PG, 115 minutes)
Director Tim Burton and his star Johnny Depp have concocted a uniquely sweet-and-tart confection, blending film and theater to bring Roald Dahl's classic story to the screen. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" has a droll British sensibility, a brightly colored fun-house look and a great cast. The fantasy, however, with its many darker elements, may be a little much for kids younger than 9. The film portrays the dire poverty of young protagonist Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) and his family and shows grim flashbacks of chocolate magnate Willy Wonka (Depp) as a child, his head in a full orthodontic brace and his sour dentist father (Christopher Lee) denying him all sweets. One kid touring Wonka's factory gets stretched like taffy, another is swarmed by squirrels and another bloated into a giant blueberry. (They all survive.) Wonka vividly recalls tasting an icky stew of green caterpillars. Kids won't get the script's jokey reference to cannibalism but might be bothered to see a cow whipped by tiny Oompa Loompa workers to get whipped cream.
Charlie lives with his kindly parents (Helena Bonham Carter and Noah Taylor) in a dizzyingly ramshackle house, where his grandparents (David Kelly and Liz Smith chief among them) spend all day in bed in the middle of the sitting room. They live in the shadow of the reclusive Wonka's chocolate factory. Wonka holds a raffle in which five children who find golden tickets in their chocolate bars get a personal tour. To his delight, Charlie wins a chance, along with a gum-chewing brat (Annasophia Robb), a chubby chocoholic (Philip Wiegratz), a video game warrior (Jordan Fry) and a spoiled rich kid (Julia Winter). Wonka (Depp plays him as a persnickety, asexual oddball with a subversive dash of Michael Jackson) takes the kids through the factory with the help of the Oompa Loompas (Deep Roy, digitally multiplied). The nasty kids get candy-coated comeuppances while Charlie gets a happy ending.
WEDDING CRASHERS (R, 119 minutes)
"Wedding Crashers" runs too long for a wacky comedy in the lewd tradition of "There's Something About Mary" (R, 1998), but despite that and its more-than-slightly sexist premise, the movie earns big laughs with a genuinely funny, literate script and an agile cast. Wildly inappropriate for under-17s, it bristles with profanity, crude verbal and visual sexual references, toplessness, rear-view nudity and semi-explicit sexual situations. It also includes homophobic slurs, drinking, brief gunfire and a few gut punches. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play John and Jeremy, best friends who work as divorce mediators but pay more attention to their hobby as tuxedoed wedding crashers -- the best way, they believe, to imbibe for free and bed young women. Then they meet their matches at a society 'do where a U.S. cabinet secretary (Christopher Walken) marries off a daughter. John falls sincerely for one of the bride's sisters (Rachel McAdams). Jeremy seduces another eccentric sibling (Isla Fisher), who afterward becomes his clingy, sexually obsessed pursuer. Though mainly just a hoot, "Wedding Crashers" also makes it clear that these guys are kind of pathetic and need to get serious.