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Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Genre Family
Year: 2007

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a family film that dabbles in the realm of such films as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Toy Story. Zack Helm, who wrote Stranger Than Fiction, brings this charming little fantasy story to life. Eccentric Mr. Magorium (Hoffman) has been running the Wonder Emporium for centuries, and wants to hand over the magical toy store to talented pianist and store manager, Molly Mahoney (Portman). Although no one is ready for Magorium to leave, including his Emporium.

Hoffman plays Magorium like a character from a Dr. Seuss book, with the depth of a Roald Dahl creation. His idioms and zany lines are fun and lively. Helm’s script sparkles with witty dialogue, and sets the platform for a magical journey into a world of make believe. Natalie Portman counterbalances Hoffman with a more sombre portrayal of a struggling composer. Molly’s hesitations and perceived lack of confidence make a strong contrast with Magorium. Then Jason Bateman plays the straight man, and gives the accountant stereotype a bit of hysteria as the character of ‘Mutant’. The comedy is subtle at times, and gives older audiences something to chuckle about. Kids will love the toy store, and character of Eric played by Zach Mills.

The CGI is spectacular, and the Emporium truly is a character on its own. The film touches on themes involving death, alienation, insecurity and low self esteem. These aspects aren’t heavy-handed, yet anchor the levity of Magorium and his Emporium. The film is like a balloon with Hoffman holding the string. When he bids a farewell the movie slowly drifts off course with a loud pop to end proceedings.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a little too sentimental and ends quite abruptly. Some will enjoy the movie’s warmth and magic realism, and others may find the whole experience a little meaningless. Helm envisioned a warm, family fantasy film and for the most part he achieved this goal. However, the unsatisfactory conclusion, wasted characters and loose ends diminish the success of this movie. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a light-hearted, magical movie that lifts your spirits momentarily, and gently fades away like the novelty of getting a new toy.

The bottom line: Magical.

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