Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
directed by Zach Helm
(20th Century Fox, 2007)

I love first-run movies. No home theatre system can replace the smell of popcorn, the wall of video and sound of a real theatre -- but with the rising cost, I see films on matinee and I rarely ever see a film twice in the theatre.

But if my companion had agreed to turn around and see Mr. Magorium again, I would have done so. I do plan on taking some friends to see this film -- a retread for me, but it'll be a treat to see their reactions as the plot unfolds.

Mr. Magorium's Magic Emporium is a 100-year-old magical toy store that's about to see some changes. You see, Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman), the 243-year-old proprieter, has just run out of his last pair of shoes that he'd selected to "last the rest of his life," and he's going to move on. (Note: He didn't say "die," because that's something batteries do.)

Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills) is a young boy who collects hats, but only made one friend at summer camp -- although "Jeff" turned out to be a squirrel. He's the narrator of this story and a frequent visitor to Mr. Magorium's.

Molly Maloney (Natalie Portman) is the manager of the emporium and the Magorium's unsuspecting heir. Mahoney is just marking time at Magorium's -- she was a musical prodigy, but at 23 feels washed up because she can't get her music quite right. She's surprised when the boss calls in an accountant -- they've never had one. Magorium keeps it secret from her that he's doing this to value his bequest to Mahoney.

That's where Henry Weston (Jason Bateman) comes in. He's a "just" man, as Mahoney puts it. It's "just a" -- toy store, car, etc. No magic in him.

When Magorium does move on, it's up to the three of them to resuscitate a place that's lost all the color in it. It takes a wooden cube and a whole lot of belief to make that happen.

I'll certainly buy this DVD when it becomes available and see it periodically, because it is a genuine "feel good" movie without drowning you in excess sucrosity. The animation is delightful and I was especially moved to see Kermit the Frog make a cameo appearance as a Magorium customer.

review by
Becky Kyle

10 May 2008

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