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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

A quick one, while he’s away by Sam M. '07

I write reviews of things that I know nothing about.

I don’t really like The Eagles’ “Desperado,” but it’s sure been stuck in my head for the last few days. I wonder why.

Last night I did some things and I thought I would relate them to you in the form of reviews. I know, it’s a bold blog structural experiment, but just have some faith in me.

First, I went to see “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with Spencer ’07 in a 654-seat theater. That’s a lot of seats.

Now, I have to admit, the original Gene Wilder version was never my favorite movie, though I think it might be Spencer’s. Still, I read pretty much all of Roald Dahl‘s major output (Chocolate Factory, Glass Elevator, James and the Giant Peach, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The BFG and the stunningly brilliant Matilda) by third grade, so I feel pretty familiar with the author’s style and themes. Also, growing up only 20 minutes from Hershey, PA–the sweetest place on Earth–and having taken the Chocolate World tour ride countless times, I feel in a unique position to evaluate a movie about an insane philanthropist chocolatier.

Well, it was pretty good. Johnny Depp will, in fact, haunt your dreams, and I think that Violet Beauregarde’s mother deserves an Academy Award just for her bizarre facial tics and for seriously rocking a blue velour tracksuit. The set design and special effects are fantastically imaginative and vibrant, and the kids are quite adorable. And I hate children. The familiar Oompa Loompa song has been rewritten (and apparently perfomed) by scientologist Danny Elfman, but the new music does incorporate Dahl’s original lyrics and I thought the second song of the five (about Augustus) was incredibly catchy.

The movie’s only flaws occur when it strays too far from the book. After Augustus Gloop’s unfortunate accident in the chocolate river and the subsequent Oompa Loompa musical number describing it, Veruca Salt wonders how the entire work force of the factory was able to improvise such detailed lyrics about the incident. This might be entertaining as a throwaway joke on the musical genre, but it’s treated as a suggestion that Willy Wonka had actually planned the demise of each child, which pretty much makes no sense even in the context of the movie. There’s also a subplot involving Wonka’s father, an authoritarian dentist, which seems inserted to give the whole work a family-oriented theme. If there’s one thing I know about Roald Dahl, it’s that he’s not exactly sympathetic to thbe families of his characters. James leaves his house behind and flies across the ocean in a giant mutated fruit, and Matilda basically destroys her family with psychic powers and runs off to live with her schoolteacher. Count Dooku does do a great job as Dr. Wonka, but the whole thing detracts from the real theme of the book, which is “Impossible things can happen because chocolate is delicious.”

Anyway, I think I’ve analyzed this movie aimed at ten-year-olds too deeply. Overall, I give a solid B. Still, the entire 654-seat theater was pretty much filled with college students, not, ten-year-olds, which Spencer theorized was a result of the Harry Potter book opening that night.

When I got back to the dorm, I saw that Erica ’07 and Gemma ’06 were going down to H****** Square (am I allowed to write it, Ben?) to check out the delivery of the sixth book at their Coop, so I figured it’d be cool even though I’ve never even touched (literally) any of the books. After running four blocks to catch up to the #1 bus, we ended up going to four different places, so I thought I could offer some reviews of these establishments based solely on how well they dispense Harry Potter merchandise.

H****** Coop–They had a bunch of people dressed up as Harry Potter characters, which I wasn’t able to appreciate because I have no idea who any of them are. But there was a big black hooded thing (Dementor?) that was breathing in a really intimidating fashion. Still, they weren’t very organized hadning out the reserved books, and they didn’t seem to be doing any children-oriented activities. B-

Curious George toy store–We headed over here because everybody who had their face painted (with a lightning bolt?) said they got it at Curious George. They were also handing out sorbet (is there a lot of sorbet in Harry Potter?) Unfortunately, they exceeded their maximum occupancy and had to close at 11:30 to get their store set up for the book’s arrival, so we got neither lightning nor sorbet. Poor planning, Curious George. I bet even your monkey namesake could have organized a better book opening. C+

Harvard Book Store (not affiliated with H****** the university)–We never actually went inside, but there were two jugglers and a fiddle player putting on a show together outside. One of the jugglers was dropping things a lot and the last thing in the show was a fairly complicated routine with machetes, so I was really nervous standing five feet from them. Then I gave them five dollars for not killing me. I love Harvard Book Store, though, so I bet they did something great. A-

Toscanini’s–This way-too-expensive Boston ice cream chain, which is inferior to J. P. Licks anyway, stayed open late to capitalize on the book opening, so we stopped in for some water. They had a flavor called “Voldamint,” which must be hilarious if you’ve read the books. B+

You should realize in my grading that plusses and minuses do not count toward your GPA at MIT. Therefore, your goal, in general, is to get more minus grades than plus grades.


That’s it for today, Parappa.

4 responses to “A quick one, while he’s away”

  1. Laila Shabir says:

    Hey Sam!

    I like your cute bunny look up there in your banner…! wink

    dang I badly want a sip of sorbet, and definitely a scoop of Voldamint!! I hope they still have them when I get there next month!

    Pluses and minuses *dont* count towards the GPA!? *gasp* That’s like….. THANK YOU for telling me that hahah I’m positive all my grades are gonna be negative! haha!


  2. Spencer says:

    Another great blog entry written on the fly.

  3. Mitra says:

    I think Spencer, Bryan, you, and I should all go running sometime. You know, a slow 14-miler or something. Then we can pick up some Dunkin Donuts coffee, Vitamin Water, a burrito from Anna’s, and a Jamba Juice — respectively. When I get back to MIT, shall we do Oompa Loompa music charades?

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hello Sam,

    I found your blog through Mitra’s blog, and I wanted to tell you that I also thought it was a little weird to add the back stories of a pained childhood/strained relationship with his father and the hint that Willy Wonka was plotting the demise of the kids.

    Well, anyway, I’ll probably keep reading this blog, you’ve got fun stuff to say!