Now in theaters: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Wedding Crashers."
The slump is over -- not the box office slump, that never happened -- the slump in bad movies. It lasted a week.
Two great summer movies open today. There's no action adventure. The only thing that gets blown up is a girl who eats too much blueberry pie. This week we have a buddy movie that's the funniest film of the summer, and an incredible trip of a family film that really is for kids of all ages.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
His name is Charlie Bucket. It's a name worthy of Dickens, and he lives in a house worthy of Dickens, too. But his fortunes turn when he wins one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets to tour the famed British chocolate factory.
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a true classic all on its own. I love the first film, based on the Roald Dahl kiddy classic. But this one's better.
Freddie Highmore should have been Oscar nominated last year for "Finding Neverland." As the new Charlie Bucket, maybe he'll be as lucky this year in Hollywood as he is with candy bars.
Yes, the bad kids get their, well, just desserts. The chubby candy-gobbling Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz) nearly drowns in a pool of chocolate. The old version didn't feature a sequence when one of the kids messes with Wonka's highly trained, walnut-shelling squirrels. She turns out to be a bad nut.
Seen through the unchecked imagination of director Tim Burton, this new version uses digital effects so cutting-edge that during intermission the snack bar sells popcorn, soda and Neosporin. And the uncanny Johnny Depp creates a preposterous, unbelievable, unlikable Willy Wonka, and makes him real. And sweet as nougat. Grade: A-.
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn get the summer's biggest laughs as recreational wedding crashers, charming bridesmaids as the nice guys who joke with grandma, fold balloons for kids, and regale guests with well-rehearsed tales of adventure, posing as mountain climbers, baseball players and battle-weary Marines.
"We lost a lot of good men," they say through teary eyes, whether they're talking about combat, tragedy on Mount Everest or playing for the New York Yankees. They're at the top of their game.
And what goes wrong? At the power wedding of the century, Wilson falls in love with one of the bridesmaids. Unfortunately, she's got a fiancée, and her dad, Christopher Walken, is the most powerful man in Washington.
This is a buddy movie to end all buddy movies, with the heart and soul of a chick flick. The early buzz was "Wedding Crashers" would be the summer's blockbuster comedy hit. And this time the buzz was right. I've loved Vaughn ever since "Swingers." Rent it if you haven't seen it.
Parents beware. "Wedding Crashers" is rated R, and this would have been a better movie without the nudity, which is forced, and without the harsh language, which isn't necessary. It's still funny.
And my favorite part? These guys must crash 30 weddings ... and not one of them was one of mine. Grade: B+