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The week’s critic wrangle: Charlie and the Happy Endings Factory.

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"Ha ha ha ha. You're really weird."+ "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory": Was 1971’s "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" a bad movie? We’ve never really comprehended it in terms of quality — watching and rewatching it at an impressionable young age, certain striking scenes hovered in our memory, and it wasn’t until years later that we actually understood them in the context of some narrative. We only bring it up because several critics take Tim Burton‘s remake as an opportunity to knock Mel Stuart‘s version, which we suppose we’d always mentally shelved as an untouchable classic. Oh,
♥Gene Wilder.♥

Anyway, everyone seems to find "Charlie" flawed but nonetheless fairly awesome. Johnny Depp‘s odd, odd Willy Wonka, on the other hand, most dislike or could take or leave. No one fails to mention Michael Jackson as an inspiration, but others come up as well: A. O. Scott calls him "an unholy mash-up of Mr. Rogers and Truman Capote," Matt Zoller Seitz suggests he’s "a socially inept cousin of industrialist Max Shreck in ‘Batman Returns,’" Stephanie Zacharek finds him more like Phil Spector, David Edelstein‘s reminded of Lon Chaney in "The Phantom of the Opera," and Roger Ebert sees a bit of Carol Burnett there.

The other much-discussed issue is screenwriter John August‘s addition of several non-Dahl backstory-providing flashbacks (with Christopher Lee as Wonka’s sugar-hating dentist father with a fondness for elaborate braces and headgear). Ella Taylor finds they "end up flattening the movie," while Ed Park merely finds them "superfluous" (and honestly, isn’t Wonka better as an inexplicable weirdo? who needs background?). No one gives us the reading of the Oompa Loompas as modern metaphor for outsourcing labor that we were longing for, but Matt Zoller Seitz wins the over-interpretation award with this:

Charlie might be Burton circa 1965—a gangly dreamer who emulates his hero by building a scale model of Wonka’s factory from bits of toothpaste tubes. Wonka might be a worst-case version of the director after 10 more years, five more movies and several tax brackets: a hermit visionary who tries to shield himself from every conceivable type of injury.

Gyllenhaal—"doll that knows she is fated to be forgotten" or "greedy scheming bitch"?+ "Happy Endings":  A lesser "The Opposite of Sex," apparently, and everyone’s responses to "Endings" seem predicated on how that felt about Don Roos‘ 1998 directorial debut. Ella Taylor claims that "Roos is good with actors, and ‘Happy Endings’ has some striking performances," something everyone seems to agree on: Tom Arnold and Lisa Kudrow are frequently singled out, while Manohla Dargis and Roger Ebert are particularly fond of Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s performance (La Manohla: "It’s possible that Gyllenhaal will never become a major star, but there isn’t an American actress in movies today who holds the screen with as much deep-seated soul."). Dargis and Taylor enjoy the film the most, while others find it a mixture of "eh" to "bleh." Ben Kenigsberg, Stephanie Zacharek and Michael Koresky take issue with Roos’ coy use of inter- and subtitles, while Armond White takes time off from his mid-year round-up to, unsurprisingly, stomp on the film:

Roos aims at being a West Coast Neil LaBute, except his sophomoric idea of truth is openly tied to a pretense of gay candor…Roos’ chic liberalism is more hateful here than it was in "The Opposite of Sex." Hollywood’s attitude toward sexuality is not improved through insidious teasing. It’s merely a way of force-feeding attitude.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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