Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
A lot of people have been
trying to humbug this charming little confection. Yes, it is lighter
than air. And yes, it does pilfer more than a bit of its story and
style from the works of Dr. Seuss and even more from Roald Dahl's "Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory." It's okay though - children's
entertainment is kind of a big world and there is a place for a film
which is as unassumingly clever, imaginative and charming as this.
Mr. Magorium's Wonder
Emporium tells the story of a magic toy store which has somehow survived
in its ramshackle old building for over a hundred years as the city
has grown modern and cold around it -- despite the fact that the employees
appear to be more interested in the kids playing with the toys than buying
The Emporium is obviously
at least loosely based on the main FAO Schwarz store in Midtown Manhattan,
and it is run by the eccentric Mr. Magorium (Dustin
Hoffman), the odd but sweetly sincere ringmaster of the place. Mr.
Magorium has created a haven for children where the toys come alive and
children can play without rules or limits.
Magorium has decided that
it is time for him to leave the shop -- for a reason that is both
wonderfully whimsical and completely illogical. He wants to leave the
store to his assistant Molly (Natalie Portman), a struggling musician who
has no confidence in her musical abilities or her capability to run the
Two strangers are drawn
into their world; Henry (Jason Bateman), a button-down and humorless
accountant who is brought in to do the store's books but finds himself drawn
to Molly and Eric (Zach Mills), a loner little boy who finally learns how to
belong in the hallowed grounds of the place.
The most interesting
character in the film is the store, though. The Emporium is alive with
whizzing, spinning, running, bouncing, sputtering, roaring toys -- a
cacophony of color, motion and sound. Every nook and cranny of the
place is populated by intrigue and whimsy.
None of it really makes
much sense outside of the particular eccentric mindset of the film, however
if you are willing to surrender logic and look at it with the eyes of a
child, Mr. Magorium is sweet and appealing.
Perhaps I would question
the decision to have a major character die - then again, death is a big part
of most great children's stories (Bambi, Ole Yeller, Hansel and Gretel
- the list goes on and on). In its favor, Mr. Magorium's Wonder
Emporium does handle death with a tact, matter-of-factness and a light
touch which will be appreciated by parents of small, inquisitive children.
Mr. Margorium's Wonder
Emporium is definitely a flawed movie, but it's somehow lovable in its
ramshackle imperfection - just like the store which inspires it.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: November 19, 2007.