Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Freak Out

Every Tim Burton and Johnny Depp Movie Ranked

Catch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

No pair has brought more pale weirdos and loners to life on the big screen in such visually-stirring, innovative ways quite like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. They’ve made eight films (and counting) together over the last 26 years, establishing a collaborative partnership that makes the morbid and strange blithely beautiful and bleakly sad at its best — and maddeningly quirky and over-the-top at its worst. Burton and Depp’s joint filmography is certainly mixed, but it can never be said they haven’t always given us something interesting to see. With Charlie and the Chocolate Factory currently airing on IFC, we decided to rank their collaborations from worst to best. Where do your favorite Burton/Depp films fall on our list? Read on to find out.

8. Dark Shadows

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s most recent collaboration also happens to be their worst. The film, based on the melodramatic gothic soap opera of the same name, peddles in camp and quirk without much substance behind it. Its flimsiness isn’t helped by the film’s uneven tone since Burton can’t decide if he’s making a comedy or a horror. As per usual, Burton assembles a great supporting cast, but much like vampire Barnabas Collins’ (Depp) victims, the film leaves both the audience and the casting feeling lifeless.


7. Alice in Wonderland

On paper, Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton seem like a match made in surrealist heaven, but the final product proves otherwise. Burton fills the screen to almost bloating with arresting visuals, but seems to have forgotten to also include a coherent narrative. (Case in point: a sudden appearance by Anne Hathaway as the White Queen who has no apparent purpose other than to wear Goth-inspired makeup and a wig that looks like it came from a Halloween store.) Depp’s Mad Hatter, meanwhile, is perhaps the pinnacle of the eccentric actor’s obsession with outrageous wigs, makeup, and bizarre accents. What once felt fresh in previous Depp/Burton collaborations seems tired here as Mad Hatter and Alice zip through Wonderland on the world’s dullest acid trip.


6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Burton takes the definition of “candy-colored” at its most literal in his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel, employing CGI to oversaturate each frame of Willy Wonka’s factory. Depp, meanwhile, shows up in an insane bobbed haircut, dental veneers, and with a speaking voice based, in part, on Carol Channing. His Wonka is far odder than Gene Wilder’s quirky 1970 portrayal, but no less strangely alluring; when he’s onscreen, you can’t tear your eyes away from his manic portrayal. Despite a lovely performance from Freddie Highmore as the poor but sweet Charlie Bucket, the rest of the film (which follows Dahl’s source material far more closely than the 1970 family favorite) could have used more of that same manic energy. Burton’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory is a bit like Wonka’s candy: it looks great, and you’ll gobble it up, but you’ll ultimately feel a little empty when it’s over.


5. Sleepy Hollow

Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman) is the real star of Tim Burton’s (loose) film adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Utilizing dense fog and dim lighting, the film has a stunning, Hammer horror film-inspired look that pairs nicely with Colleen Atwood’s Oscar-nominated costumes. In Burton’s considerably bloody version of Washington Irving’s classic tale, Ichabod Crane (Depp) is a police constable from Manhattan rather than a local teacher, which in typical Burton/Depp fashion, makes him an outsider to the tight-knit townspeople of Sleepy Hollow. For once, Depp gets to play the handsome straight-man (albeit one with some minor eccentricities), embracing Ichabod’s inquisitive, scientific nature with an aplomb usually reserved for his stranger characters. Unfortunately the script, penned by Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, starts out as a taut thriller before collapsing under the weight of its overstuffed plot. A solid outing, but nothing worth losing your head over.


4. Corpse Bride

In an animated collaboration that perfectly dovetails with their live-action work, Burton and Johnny Depp continue their exploration of misfits seeking love and acceptance. This time it’s about a shy Victorian gentleman, Victor (Depp), mistakenly marrying a literal corpse bride named Emily (an enchanting Helena Bonham Carter) while practicing his fumbled vows meant for his living bride-to-be (Emily Watson). The stop-motion animation, a notoriously time-consuming medium (and Burton’s favorite), is spectacularly gorgeous and spooky, and Depp’s subtle voice work is just right for the film’s graceful tone. Corpse Bride may be meant for children, but adults will take to its edgy bittersweet tone.


3. Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp’s Oscar-nominated performance as murderous barber Sweeney Todd is one of his most understated; you can feel Todd’s long-simmering rage boiling just below the surface of his pained yet stoic facade as he sets about trying to take revenge on the corrupt judge (the late Alan Rickman in a delightfully slimy performance) who locked him up, stole his wife, and covets his daughter. Calculated, elegant restraint is not necessarily something for which Burton or Depp are particularly known, but both are in full control of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 Tony Award-winning source material, forgoing theatricality in favor of a bleak color palette and a chilly Victorian sensibility. Depp’s singing voice is strong where Helena Bonham Carter’s is weak, but they complement each other nicely especially when set against the lush sounds of a full orchestra. Murder has never looked (or sounded) so intoxicating.


2. Ed Wood

In choosing to do a biopic about the laughable-yet-lovable director of B-movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Burton and Depp reinvented themselves yet again; this time making a 1950s-set film whose tone falls somewhere between Capra and Corman. Their loving depiction of Wood presents a man whose indefatigable optimism and delusions of grandeur are both infectious and damning. Martin Landau won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as horror legend Bela Lugosi, stealing every scene in which he appears. Like many Burton/Depp projects, Ed Wood is ultimately a sweet, satisfying film about outsiders finding acceptance and blazing their own trails…sometimes while wearing fuzzy pink sweaters.


1. Edward Scissorhands

A sweetly surreal suburban fairy tale about a gentle loner with scissors for hands who is taken in by a Leave It to Beaver-esque family, Burton and Depp’s first and finest collaboration has the kind of magical alchemy that made the filmmaker’s early work so visionary: wondrous design and cinematography, fascinating characters, an ethereal score from composer Danny Elfman, and a great cast. Depp famously took the role of Edward as a means of rebelling against his 21 Jump Street heartthrob persona, transforming himself and his career in the process. Despite the crazy hair and makeup, he does some very subtle, lovely work, which is echoed by the doe-eyed Winona Ryder as Kim, the object of Edward’s affections, and the marvelous Dianne Wiest as his chipper and sympathetic mom who takes the outcast in. Suburbia proves to be less than idyllic for the lonely Edward, and Burton’s film brilliantly shows us that terms like “beautiful” and “ugly” are relative. Edward Scissorhands is the rare film that still feels fresh and magical with repeat viewings, imbuing viewers with a sense of wonder they’ve only felt upon seeing (or like Kim, dancing in) snow for the first time.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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