Monday, December 03, 2007


Mr. Magorian, I asked the big book for a lollipop and I got a lemur!MR MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM is a beautifully imagined and rendered movie about a magical toyshop and the people who work there. Dustin Hoffman is love-able and wise as the old toy-maker and Natalie Portman is typically charming as his assistant Molly Mahoney. Young Zach Mills is truly impressive as the quirky kid who spends all day playing with toys there. Even Jason Bateman is impressive in an uncharacteristically restrained role as a buttoned-down accountant. But the real star of the show is the Wonder Emporium itself. Its the craziest most fantabulous toy store you could ever imagine, with beautiful magic toys bursting out of every corner and kids actually allowed to play with them!

The problem with the movie is that is rests too heavily on its only theme. Mr Magorium is not long for this world: hence the accountant is brought in to tot up the value of the shop for Mahoney's inheritance. The prevailing theme of this children's theme is, then, death and grieving, and the idea that it is best to honour the lives of those we love by moving on and living our own lives rather than grieving indefinitely. In addition, we need to believe in ourselves. This is all good stuff and the film delivers this adult subject matter sensitively to its target audience. The problem is that there simply isn't enough richness to the character development or genuine suspence to sustain the already slim run-time. It's pretty obvious from the start that Mahoney will find the courage to take on her inheritance and that the accountant's heart will soften, echoing Helm's script for STRANGER THAN FICTION. So, maybe one for DVD...?

MR MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM is on release in Brazil, Canada, Taiwan, Turkey, the US, the Philippines, Israel and Poland. It opens next week in Germany, the Netherlands, and on December 13th in Australia, Russia, Singapore, Spain and the UK. It opens later in December in South Korea, Belgium and Hong Kong. I topens in Belgium and Hong Kong at the end of January 2008 and in Norway, Italy, France, Egypt and Japan in February. It opens in Finland in March.

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