Slate's Summary Judgment: 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,' 'Wedding Crashers,' 'Happy Ending'

Chocolate and weddings dominate this week's movie releases — Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan reviews what film critics are saying about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wedding Crashers and Happy Ending.

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Among new movies competing for your business this weekend is a new version of the children's classic "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." How does it taste? Here with our weekly digest of what the critics are saying about "Charlie" and the rest of the new releases, courtesy of our partners at the online magazine Slate, is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up in wide release, we have the wild comedy "Wedding Crashers." Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play buddies who live to crash weddings and hit on the available and usually drunk women. Advice to men: Don't try this at your own wedding. Christopher Walken and Rachel McAdams also star.

(Soundbite of "Wedding Crashers")

Mr. VINCE VAUGHN: (As Jeremy Grey) It's wedding season, kid.

Mr. OWEN WILSON: (As John Beckwith): You sandbaggin' son of a...

Mr. VAUGHN: I got us down for 'em. There's 17 of them already.

Mr. WILSON: OK. Now how many of them are cash bars?

Mr. VAUGHN: Great question. Love where you head's at. And two of them actually are. But I got us covered. Purple Hearts. We won't have to pay for a drink all night.

LEGAN: Most of the nation's critics want to raise their glass and toast this R rated comedy. `It's often dirty, yes, but it's also manic and inspired,' giggles The Washington Post. The LA Times shouts that "Wedding Crashers" is `witty, unhinged and fearless,' and the Philadelphia Inquirer shouts, `It's hopelessly raunchy, hopelessly romantic and wickedly, wickedly funny.'

Next up in limited release is "Happy Endings," the latest multiple story-line dramedy from Don Roos, the writer/director of the art-house hit "The Opposite of Sex." The film focuses on a large group of friends dealing with love, adoption and, yes, massage therapy. Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow and Maggie Gyllenhaal head the ensemble cast.

(Soundbite of "Happy Endings")

Ms. LISA KUDROW: (As Mamie) I don't need to see my son. I was going to have an abortion, in fact, until someone talked me out of it.

Unidentified Man #3: If you don't care, then why'd you keep updating the adoption agency with your addresses? There's four of them in the file.

Ms. KUDROW: He has the information. He can contact me if he wants to.

Unidentified Man #3: He won't. He threw it away--the whole file. That's how I got it.

LEGAN: Most of the critics enjoyed the quirky "Happy Endings," even though the Minneapolis Star Tribune grouses, `It's nothing more than a disjointed indie comic drama,' the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds it, `clever, thoughtful, well-acted and certainly entertaining,' and the LA Times asks, quote, "Why aren't there more movies like this? I mean, smart, unpretentious, sophisticated and uncondescending?" unquote.

And also in wide gooey-sweet high-calorie release, we have the eagerly anticipated "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp, who have teamed on everything from "Edward Scissorhands" to "Sleepy Hollow," now attempt to bring Roald Dahl's classic children's novel to the screen. Many people are fans of the 1971 film version that starred Gene Wilder as the quirky candy king. This time around, Johnny Depp sinks his teeth into the role of the mysterious Willy Wonka.

(Soundbite of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory")

Unidentified Boy: You can eat the grass.

Unidentified Woman #2: Of course you can.

Mr. JOHNNY DEPP: (As Willy Wonka) Everything in room is eatable, even I'm eatable. But that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.

LEGAN: I don't know whether the nation's critics are all in a good mood because of summer vacations or what, but they're also cheering this movie. Yes, even though The New York Times calls it, `wondrous and flawed,' the New York Post slurps, `an inspired and hugely satisfying meeting of director and material,' and Rolling Stone advises, `"Charlie" is a treat for twisted children of all ages.' Well, what twisted child hasn't ever dreamed of touring an actual candy factory? Actually, I did once and it was magical, full of chocolate rivers and gumdrop trees--oh, who am I kidding? All I saw was unfriendly workers and hair nets and a bug falling into the peanut brittle. There's just some field trips you never forget.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles.

DAY TO DAY's a production of NPR News and slate.com.

(Credits)

CHADWICK: I'm Alex Chadwick.

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