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I'd wanted to see this for some time so I was glad when my DVD rental company finally sent it for me to watch. I had heard many great things about the film so had high expectations. I did watch this on DVD, but as I never bother with any of the extras this is a film only review.
Mr Magorium is over 200 years old. He owns the most amazing toy shop and children come from all over to play in it and to see the various toys on offer. Molly is the manager of the shop, she is a promising composer and that was her dream as a child but nowadays she feels like she followed the wrong path in life and she feels trapped working at the toy shop.
Mr Magorium, though appearing healthy and happy is beginning to feel old and tired. He feels that his time is up so therefore he hires an accountant, Henry to help settle his finances and shape up the books of the toy shop. What will happen to Mr Magorium?
I watched this film with my niece who is nine and we both really enjoyed it. It was fun and interesting to watch and there was always plenty going on which meant that both our attentions were held. The plot flowed really well and there was never a dull moment. The ending was predictable and to be honest it took slightly longer than I had imagined but it was done very well and it wrapped everything up nicely.
I adored Mr Magorium. He was so fun and full of life he had a very positive effect on everyone around him. He made the film what it was and he just seemed so fantastic, I backed him throughout the film and I was desperate for him to get the best for both himself and his store.
In the film the store was personified which gave it an interesting twist as it meant we could see how the store was feeling as well as all the people. The characters and the store together helped to make the film. Molly was brilliant and she was really understandable and realistic.
The acting in the film was done very well, especially with the amount of children involved, I was really impressed with the high standards. Dustin Hoffman was absolutely brilliant as Mr Magorium and I loved watching him.
As you can tell, we really enjoyed the film. I would recommend it to families and also those that are young at heart, it was very fun and is certainly worth a watch.
The film was made in 2007.
It was written and directed by Zach Helm.
It stars Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman and Ted Ludzik.
It runs for 93 minutes.
Mr Magorium is a 243 year old toy shop owner, he has decided the time has come for him to leave and so he decides that he will leave his magic toy store to Molly Mahoney who is the manager. In order for him to do this he has to get an accountant to find out what the store is worth so he employs accountant Henry.
Mahoney is enjoying her time at the toy store but she loves her music and is trying desperately to write her own masterpiece but she just cannot complete it, she is shocked at the news from Mr Magorium and is even more shocked when she discovers she is to be left everything. Shop assistant Eric who is only 9 years old think Mahoney would make a great new owner, he spends all his time in the store as no one wants to be his friend.
Soon though things in the Emporium start to go wrong as the shop hears about Magoriums plans to leave so starts to behave. The walls change to a nasty grey colour and the toys start to loose their magic and soon nothing in the store works anymore. Will Mr Magorium be able to convince Mahoney that she will make a good new owner and will they be able to get the store back to its magical state before he has to leave? Will Henry ever believe in the magic of the store or is he destined to be a 'just' man forever?
For some reason there was something which appealed to me about this film, I do confess to being a fan of children's films as they are such fun and very easy to watch. This one was on exception. I found the storyline was good and perfect for the young audience this was aimed at. I did find some parts completely unbelievable and daft but this may have been me being too cynical. The way the story involved magic and a toy store was a perfect mix and made the appeal so much more fun.
The acting was good. Natalie Portman played the role of Mahoney as she did a great job. She managed to bring both a childish and adult element to her character and this worked very well as she was not childish all the time and did manage to hold adult conversations with Eric. She was a nice warm hearted person and easy to get to know and understand. She worked well with the role of Eric, the young 9 year old shop assistant and they seemed more like brother and sister than just friends. Eric was played by Zach Mills and he to did a great job. I felt sorry for him at times as no one wanted to be his friend but I also loved his determination to do as he wished and not just things to suit others. He had a great hat obsession and this showed another side to his character. He stuck up a great friendship with the role of Henry and I believed their friendship was genuine as it looked so good on screen. The role of Henry was played by Jason Bateman and he was another good role, he showed that people could change and that there is always some inner child in all of us waiting to get out. He was stuck up at the start of the film and I was not too keen on him but liked him more as the film moved on.
The role of Mr Magorium for me was not the best. He was played by Dustin Hoffman and I just did not believe in him. He was supposed to be an eccentric old man who loved magic and toys but for some reason he just came across as a strange and weird old man who never knew what was happening. I did not get his appearance either, he clearly had badly fitted false teeth which gave him a speech problem and for me it just did not work. I think this role would have been perfect for Gene Wilder if the film was made earlier. There were some good sides to the character and he did show emotions at times but for me I just did not think it was the best choice of actor for the role and someone different could have given so much more to the character.
The scenery inside the toyshop was very well made and I loved how everything came to life. The toys were all great and some of them developed characters of their own. I think the effects used on these were all very well made and I liked how well known branded toys were also used. The colours and brightness of the inside of the store was good as it will appeal to children and get them more interested in the film. The music was also very god and I found the theatrical and orchestral theme worked very well. I helped with the magic feel and also the emotions of the sadder moments in the film.
The DVD which we have does have some bonus features and these include:-
An Eccentric Boss Featurette
To Meet Eric Applebaum Featurette
The Magic Toy Store Featurette
Strangely Weird Featurette
Fun on the Set
Top Ten Toys
3 Easter Eggs
Mr Magorium's flying machine
As me and hubby are not fans of bonus features we have not watched these so I ma not able to make comment on them.
The running time of the film is 90 minutes and I think this is a great length for the younger audience. The certificate s a U but I would say there are one or two sad moments in the film so sensitive children may be upset by them. The remainder of the film is definitely suitable for all ages I paid just £3 for this DVD in Asda and I thought that was a bargain price.
I definitely recommend this as a great family film. Children will love seeing the magical toys and there is actually a good storyline which the grown ups will also enjoy. I would have given this 5 stars if it was not for the awkward acting by Hoffman, but this is still a good 4 star film.
Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is children's film that was released in 2007 and it was written and directed by Zach Helm. It is rated U as there is only one use of mild language and the film is 94 minutes long.
Mr Magorium is 243 years old and he owns a magical toy shop, Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium. The shop is always filled to the brim with children playing with the magical toys and their parents don't always understand what is happening when things like octopuses come out of books and there are mobiles made out of fresh fish. Although Mr Magorium is the owner of the shop, it is 23 year old, musical genius, Molly Mahoney that is the store manager. When she was a child, everyone was talking about what an amazing pianist she was and what she would become but as she has grown older, she has lost her way.
Believing that it is his time to leave the planet (it isn't stated that he is an alien, that is exactly how he puts it), he wants to leave the shop to Mahoney so he brings in an accountant to make sure everything is ok. The accountant, Henry, is quite boring and is very into his work and he really doesn't understand what the toy shop is all about, until Mr Magorium tells him that he will be gone the next day.
When the shop learns of Mr Magorium's eminent departure, it begins to behave badly, with the toys going a bit crazy and the nice red walls turning to grey and boring. Mahoney learns of Mr Magorium's wish to leave her the shop but she doesn't believe that it is something that she can do, or even that she wants and the fate of the shop rests in her hands.
Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Edward Magorium
Natalie Portman as Molly Mahoney
Jason Bateman as Henry "Mutant" Weston
Zach Mills as Eric Applebaum
Ted Ludzik as Bellini
Rebecca Northan as Ellie Applebaum
- An eccentric boss
- Meet Eric Applebaum
- The magical toy store
- Strangely and weirdly
- Fun on the set
- Top 10 toys
- 3 Easter eggs
- Mr Magorium's flying machines
I had never even heard of this film before I watched it and it was only because of my 11 year old cousin that I did. I was really set out to dislike this film but as each minute went on, I fell more and more in love with it.
There isn't actually a whole lot involved in the plot and one of the main messages of the story is how to deal with death and what to do afterwards. Everyone around Mr Magorium doesn't want him to leave and they don't think that the shop will be the same without him, Mahoney especially. She has the hardest time dealing with his death because she has grown up knowing and working for him and he's been such a huge part of her life. It was wonderful to see so many children at his funeral because they had all loved him and his shop so dearly. I think the message about death may be a little much for some younger children and I don't think they will quite understand what is going on. I thought that the speech about Shakespeare's King Lear was very emotional and true and it was one of my favourites scenes in the film.
The special effects are utterly magical and the way the shop is brought to life was a wonderful thing to watch. Everywhere that you look, there is something going on and to start with, you don't really know what to look at first. Each toy's life is brought to life in a way that enhances its own purpose. I also loved how when Mr Magorium decided that it was his time, the shop gave up and all of the magic stopped. Although this was sad, it showed that a little bit of magic can help everything. There is an utterly adorable grey monkey on the shelves and it has to be one of my favourite toys in the film.
Dustin Hoffman was extraordinary as Mr Magorium and everything about him seemed perfect to me. He was old and eccentric but that is what everyone loves about him. He really felt everything that he said and he believed in magic 100%, which is something that he tried to show to others.
I didn't like Henry's character too much to begin with because he was quite boring and a workaholic to begin with. The way that his character developed was very realistic as the death of Mr Magorium touched something in him and he realised that there is more to life than work.
Mahoney was a character that I couldn't quite understand. I know she is supposed to have lost her way in life and struggles to find the inspiration to create her masterpiece but with her talent, I don't see how or why she would have ever been stuck working in a toy shop her whole life. While she was likable and funny at times, there was just the reality aspect (strange I know, considering what the film is about) that really bugged me the whole way through.
I found myself very intrigued as soon as the film started because I wanted to know more about the magic of the shop and how it worked. The ending is quite predictable although children might not think so as much. Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a fabulous family film that both children and adults will love.
I got this film as a christmas present a couple of years ago. Having shown absolutely no interest in wanting to own this film is was quite a shoch when I unwrapped the present and found the DVD inside.
I have only wayched this film about three times, the last time being a couple of days ago. Until then I hadn't watched it in a while, and I forgot that it is in fact quite a good film. It is definately family viewing and is suitable for all ages. For instance four people in my family watched this, and our age ranges from the late teend to the early fifties!
The film is about 243 year old toy store owner called Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) who feels that it is time to let somebody else run the store. He hands this responsibility down the Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman). It also involves a young boy called Eric (Zach Mills) and Henry, the counting mutant (James Bateman).
The store he owns, is not like any other toy store. This toy store is a magical toy store, and if you watch quite closely, you'll see various little things going on in the background, which make it very watchable. Some things which magazines and newspapers called this film is 'enchanting, imaginative and genuinly moving'. Also it has been called ' a magically memorable movie'.
The special features of this DVD include four featurettes. These are called:
An eccentric Boss
To meet Eric Applebaum
The magical toy store
Strangely & Weirdly
There are also other little behind the scenes links. These are called:
Fun on the set
Top ten toys
Mr Magorium's flying machine
There is also Rom content, a theatrical trailer and something called 3 easter eggs. I haven't got round to finding what that last special feature is about, so I will probably have to re-watch the special features sometime soon!
Overall, I think this is a genuine fun, family film which can be watched by any member of the family and any time of day. I would highly recommend this film to anybody!!
The wife and I watched Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium (MMWE) on Disney Cinemagic and so this is a film-only review.
MMWE tells the story of Mr Magorium, a 243-year-old man who owns a magical toy store. Mr Magaorium loves his store and the kids who play in it, but decides that it's now time to hand the store over to his best employee, Molly Mahoney. And to be honest, that's pretty much all that happens in the film. However, far from being a boring kids movie MMWE is a delight to watch cos of all the things going on in the background.
For a start, Mr Magorium is an eccentric character (as I imagine most toy shop owners are) who is brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman. Magorium has a speech impediment/lisp that makes him likeable to the audience straight away. He has a contraption in his living room that changes his clothes for him and lives with a zebra.
Likewise, his toy store is fantastic and actually alive in places - the stuffed teddies move on their own and smile and frown at the things that are going on - little touches like these make the film very watchable and incredibly enjoyable, no matter how old you are (the wife and I are 26 and 27 and we both loved it).
The cast is only quite small and is headlined by the brilliant Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman is ably supported by Natalie Portman (Garden State, V for Vendetta) and the very likeable James Bateman (Hancock, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). However, perhaps the best supporting actor was Zach Mills who plays Eric, the young boy who doesn't have any friends but spends his day at the toy store helping the adults.
With a running time of just over 90 minutes it's a film that doesn't drag and is thus easy to watch.
Overall, I'd say that Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a magical film that will have you smiling whatever your age.
This film was on the TV a few months ago, I can't remember if this was on the Disney Channel or the movie channels, but I know it was on somewhere!!!
The film was out in the cinema in 2007, and stars Duston Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman in the main parts as Mr Magorium (Hoffman), Molly Mahony (Portman) and Henry "The Mutant" Weston (Bateman).
The film is about a magic toy shop, Mr Magoriums Wonder Emporium, which has a life of it's own, everything in the shop is alive, the toys, the books even the walls. Including Mr Magorium, who has been around for decades...centuries even. Molly is the shop assistant in the Emporium, she is a musician and is wanting to move on to another job, but doesn't want to upset her good friend Mr Magorium!
But when Mr Magorium gets news he isn't going to be around much longer...he's basically going to die...he asks Molly to take over. But, the emporium isn't happy at been left by Mr Magorium, and gradually starts to have a strop, taking it's magic away!
Before he goes, Mr Magorium wants to get his books in order, and so hires Henry, who is quickly called the Mutant by a little boy who goes into the shop- he is a non believer and can't believe that the Emporium is anything other than a plain old toy shop.
Molly doesn't want to take over the shop, she feels is will be too much work for her to take on, she can't control the magic in the shop as Mr Magorium can, but he won't leave it to anyone but her!
The film is most definitely aimed at kids aged between 3 and 14, but I watched it aged 20, and I quite enjoyed it, I don't think I would worry about watching it again, i.e. I wouldn't buy the DVD, but maybe if there was nothing else on but this, I would be happy to re watch it.
There are a lot of bright colours, making it good for youngsters and it does definitely stimulate the imagination. The storyline isn't a true to life story of course, but it is a funny and good storyline, which I don't think I have seen again, I think the book of this film (if there is one...!) would be much better for kids to read or be read, rather than watch the film, just because it would stimulate the imagination a whole lot more than been shown how the shop should look and how the characters should be. But it is a good film, which doesn't get boring halway through as many kids films do.
The story is very predictable and right from the first 15 minutes you know (as an adult anyway) what is going to happen, but it gets to that ending in a nice way, which you really buy into as an audience.
The protagonists are believable in their roles, and very likeable as characters which is always a good thing! And the way the role of Henry changes over the course of the storyline is good :)
I think this is a great film for youngsters really, and if I was younger, this would be a film which I would adore, would probably be one of my favourites, but as an adult, there are too many better films to top Mr Magoriums Wonder Emporium, but definitely worth the watch :)
This is a magical adventure ideal for children of all ages[including adults]. The story follows the magical tale of an enchanted shop run by Magorium played by Dustin Hoffman who claims to be over 240 years old, he has a quirky assistant manager played by Natalie Portman, who the true story unfolds around, there is also an accountant with very little personality and a young boy obsessed with hats who has trouble connecting with others. Magoriums shop connects them all but as their link to Magorium begins to sever, they must learn to stand on their own two feet in order to save the magic of the shop. Other reviews may criticise this casting, suggestions have been made that Hoffman was probably not the perfect cast favouring Williams or Myers but i believe that Hoffman delivers and credit must also go to the supporting cast who do well in enduring the magic of this story. Not to be confused with Charlie and the chocolate factory as many including myself might do this is an enchanting piece for all the family to enjoy.
Director: Zach Helm
Writer: Zach Helm
Genre: Comedy - Family - Fantasy
Released: 12th May, 2008 (DVD)
Dustin Hoffman (Mr. Edward Magorium)
Natalie Portman (Molly Mahoney)
Zach Mills (Eric Applebaum)
Jason Bateman (Henry Weston)
Having reached the ripe old age of 243, Mr. Magorium decides that it's time to leave... the world. Knowing that none can look after his magical store better than the store manager, Molly Mahoney, who is also a gifted pianist, he bequeaths the store to her. However, the toys in the store don't take kindly to Mr. Magorium's upcoming departure, feeling as though they are being abandoned, and begin to show signs of discontent, much like a child having a temper tantrum.
Molly Mahoney, who had every intention of quitting her job in order to concentrate on her music, is upset that Mr. Magorium has bequeathed the store to her - however, when she discovers that Mr. Magorium is planning on dying, her frustration turns to fear and she immediately rushes Mr. Magorium to the hospital... where none of the doctors can find anything wrong with him.
Deciding that he might simply be bored and needs a reason to stay, she takes him on an adventurous day out in an effort to show him that even at 243 he hasn't seen and experienced everything that life has to offer.
'Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium' is, without a doubt, one of the most tiresome movies I've had to watch this year. Unlike other movies that are bad but thankfully forgettable, this one just seems to remain in memory and refuses to go away. Why? Because it wasn't bad enough - the storyline is absolute rubbish, however, the special-effects and acting were good... which means that it sort of balanced itself. Does that make any sense whatsoever?
The thing is, with this movie, it's impossible not to watch it to the end, regardless that you hate it. It's like being five again and being given the opportunity to run amuck in a fabulous magical toy store... do you really care when you're five about the toy store owner or the manager? No way, it's the toys you want to see. Nothing else matters. Well, that's exactly what it's like watching this movie. You're captivated by the toys, by the joyous atmosphere, by the endless and magical possibilities... you're trying to take everything in, and you just couldn't be bothered to pay any attention to the characters in the movie. Finally, once the toys have lost their appeal (this takes approx. 15 minutes) and focus your attention on Mr. Magorium and the other characters, you realise just how tiresome they are - and because you've already grown bored with the toys, there isn't much left to hold your attention - at this point you just want it to end. However, at 93 minutes in length, you've got a long wait ahead.
I suspect young children might love this movie because of the magical toys that are brought to life on the screen, but I'm not altogether certain this movie can keep even them entertained for the 93 minute haul.
The acting is okay, after all, Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman aren't exactly beginners and know how to fit into their characters, but the script is way too flimsy and inconsequential for them. The simplistic storyline borders the inane, the dialogue is yawn inducing, which means that the success of this movie rests entirely with the toys in the shop - this is, once again, the case of the director/writer relying entirely on special-effects to pull everything off.
The movie is a mind-boggling sham, and was created for the sole purpose of making money last Christmas... after all, the Christmas season is a great time to make money with kiddie movies, however, they didn't stand a chance in hell against the likes of 'The Golden Compass'.
Although fascinating to the eye, 'Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium' is below average and should be earmarked for the bin. Watching it in HD or Blu-Ray isn't going to make a difference... you'll be awed by the quality of the sound and the image, but totally bored out of your mind with the movie.
Take some of both versions of Willy Wonka/Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, sprinkle with some magic and you have this very weird movie. Dustin Hoffman plays Mr Magorium, he's over 200 years old, runs a toy emporium and it's magic. Hoffman plays the role well but I feel he wasn't 1st pick (I still think Robin Williams or Mike Myers turned this down). It does feel a bit like "The Cat In The Hat". The use of colour is amazing.
Magorium decides it's his last day on Earth and he gives the shop to his Manager played pretty well by Natalie Portman. She just has the right kind of personality to be the shy girl who doesn't quite believe in magic but is willing to be converted. I get the feeling she wasn't 1st pick for her role either. The little boy playing Eric is incredibly annoying. Kids don't like him because he's weird. Those ears and that haircut aren't helping him much either though.
The guy playing The Mutant is pretty good, he plays his role well enough to be convincing as an accountant who regains a more childlike inner self. The film looks great, the internals of the shop itself look wonderful. Special effects are very well used but slightly over the top. The film feels a lot like both "Mary Poppins" & "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" in certain places.
It's definitely for the kids, adults aren't going to enjoy it all that much I feel. Magorium doesn't die as such but they have a funeral for him (never a great idea in a kids film, especially one with another 20 minutes of screen time to fill). The eventual outcome of Portman discovering her inner magic to revive the store is nothing if predictable. The film hasn't really got an ending, it just peters out having run out of ideas. Best left to the kids.
I'm probably too old for this. The films main issue is it's very low on plot or storyline. It's good but it's a little too weird for my liking and I didn't like the ending.
Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a fantastic magical film that the whole family can enjoy. It is a film that doesn't take itself too seriously and so shouldn't be taken too seriously by the viewer but does at times deal with a few topical issues.
Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a magical toyshop in which anything can happen and frequently does. Lego builds itself, the force of gravity does not worry toy aircraft and playmobil characters have their own adventures. Its owner Mr Magorium is an eccentric 243 year-old that has dedicated his life to making toys.
The insecure Molly Mahoney, a pianist who has spent her life being told she has potential but is currently struggling to write her 1st symphony, manages the store and is doing a brilliant job but big changes lie ahead.
Mr Magorium is on his last pair of shoes and considering he bought enough o last his whole life he knows he is about to depart and so realising he has no idea of the worth of the shop hires Henry, a somewhat stuffy account, he affectionately dubs 'Mutant' to find out, as he himself prepares to bequeath the entire story to Molly.
She however is utterly shocked when he reveals his plans to her and store regular Eric, a nine year old boy, and doesn't feel she has the ability to do what he is asking of her. To make matters worse the shop itself also has other ideas. To try and make him stay Molly must use any means necessary to show him he still has things to live for. Mr Magorium however is still determined to go, his time is up and he's had a wonderful life. So he departs leaving Molly a cube he says will aid her.
But what does the cube do?
Will Henry ever loosen up and believe?
And can Molly Mahoney believe in herself and find the inspiration to complete her symphony?
This film is in my opinion a fabulous light-hearted magical tale. It is humorous without being childishly slapstick and at moments is quite emotional. The way Eric deals with ease the situation of Mr Magorium's departure and on the whole plays the voice of reason within the film is reassuring to both an adult and child audience.
The musical score is simple yet effective and really adds an emotional power to the tale being told from the very beginning to the very end. It is a mix of childlike nursery rhyme style ditties and more complex inspirational pieces.
The characters themselves are rather stereotypical and range from the eccentric mad inventor Mr Magorium to the insecure and uncertain shop manager, the lonely and shy young boy to the somewhat stuck-up and refusing to believe accountant. These stereotypes however work really well within the film and really pull together all elements of the film.
The acting is superb on all scores. Dustin Hoffman excels as the eccentrically loveable Mr Magorium and Natalie Portman is a true star as Molly Mahoney showing every emotion with conviction. The performances of Zach Mills and Jason Bateman, Eric and Henry respectively, are also extremely solid and at times rather heart-felt.
From the moment the store open its doors to the very end of the film the wonders inside and the story itself captures your imagination and allows you to run free in a place that has everything you could ever have dreamed of. The store itself asks for only two things in turn: that you believe in it and that you believe in yourself.
If you can do both of these things then the film will be a true hit and in your life you'll be able to achieve anything you set your heart to and in my opinion that is what this magical adventure is really all about.
THE IS A REVIEW OF THE FILM ONLY AS IT WAS SEEN AT THE CINEMA AND IS NOT RELEASED ON DVD YET
My husband and I saw a trailer for this film so when my daughter wanted to take 4 friends to the cinema for her birthday, we thought this would be an ideal choice. The film starts by introducing us to Bellini, played by Ted Ludzik, who is a bookbuilder living under Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium. He is a muscle bound tattooed skinhead with a love for Magorium, so much that he has catalogued his escapades.
Dustin Hoffman is the lisping, buck teethed creation Mr Magorium, a 243 year old toy shop owner with wild hair and clothes to match his eccentric personality. It goes without saying that a character like this could never be expected to have a standard toy store, and in this case the toys and creatures come to life and the store is popular for miles around, whilst he lives above the shop with his pet zebra Mortimer.
The film is narrated by 9 year old loner Eric, played by Zach Mills, who frequents the store modelling one of his varied collection of hats. I would have liked more to have been made of this character, as he is the one that the majority of viewers would have had common ground to share and could relate to.
We soon discover that fantasist Mr Magorium has decided his time on earth has come to an end. His reasoning behind this is that he has a magnificent pair of shoes which he bought in Italy many many years ago. He loved the shoes so much that he bought enough pairs to last his whole life......and his last pair were barely wearable. He has decided that frustrated composer/pianist Molly Mahoney, played by Natalie Portman will be promoted from store manager to store owner. For that reason, he decides it is best to get in an accountant, Henry played by Jason Bateman. He refers to him as "mutant". I am not sure this role brings any additional to the film, it is a real filler role, as the plot would make for a half hour TV programme rather than a film. Bateman is more wooden than the role calls for him to be, and it would have been nice to see him interact more. Predictably, the magic wins him over in the end.
However, the store and the contents react very negatively to the news of their beloved owner's departure in a dark way with a tantrum to end all tantrums, which seems like the end of the toy shop as everyone knows it.
Hoffman dumbs it down for this role, but he could hardly play it straight. The film will never win him an Oscar, but at this point in his career why not turn up, act like a fool and bank a decent pay cheque? He looks like he is enjoying it, and I imagine that many of Magorium's traits could be seen when Hoffman is playing with his grandchildren.
Portman portrays the troubled Mahoney as well as she could, as other than knowing she plays the piano, we know little about her, so really cannot form a connection to her. This role could have been played by any actress and did not stretch a performance from her at all.
It is a watchable film, and the children loved it, and I am sure they would watch it again, and probably I would as it has a certain innocent charm. It wasn't too sickly sweet, and although I think the message about the inevatibility of death will be missed by the younger viewer, and as it is portrayed as something that you decide, and that you will know the date an time, I am glad that my children won't take it as a realistic view.
One of my favourite Children's films is Hook starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, and Hoffman's quirky performance is a major contributing factor in this. In his role as a Children's story villian, he managed to encompass everything magical that we should expect from kids films, but so rarely get these days. Since first seeing Hook, I have been anxiously awaiting his next offering of fairy tales and children's fantasy cinematography. It was primarily for this reason that I was aching to see Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium from the moment I say the trailer.
Writer/Director: Zach Helm
Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman, Zach Mills
Genre: Family fantasy/Comedy (and a bit of a tear jerker if you are as unstable as I am!)
Classification: U (Suitable for all ages)
UK Cinema Release date: 14th December 2007
Run Time: One hour and thirty-four minutes
What's it all about?
Mr Magorium has finally worn out his last pair of shoes and at 243 years old, he takes this as a sign that his days as magical toy store owner and indeed his days on Earth are over. Determined to get his affairs in order, he hires an accountant (or Mutant as he is referred to) to sort out the books before he bequeaths the store to Molly Mahoney, the young, talented piano-playing manager of the store. However, the store doesn't take kindly to Mr Magorium's plans and throws a tantrum leaving the future of the store in serious doubt.
Who is Zach Helm?
As a director, this film was Helm's first. As a family film, this was Helm's first. As a Writer, this was only his second film, the first being 2006's Stranger than Fiction starring Will Ferell and Queen Latifa. Yet, despite being relatively wet behind the ears in Hollywood terms, at 32 years old, he has managed to get himself noticed in the difficult film industry over the last 5 years. Esquire Magazine named him in their Best and Brightest list in 2004 while Fade In Magazine placed him on their "100 people in Hollywood you need to know" list the same year and again in 2005. Now the Hollywood bible, Variety Magazine has caught on and named him as one of the top 10 writers to watch.
With three industry nominations and one win under his belt for his Stranger than Fiction screenplay, it seems likely that his is a name we will be hearing more often over the years.
Did the story/script shine?
It seems to me, when dealing with kids' films, Hollywood more often than not, takes the easy way out with the general rule of "keep 'em laughing and they won't notice the lack of a good story." To do this, children's comedy has become increasingly slap-stick with endless jokes about breaking wind, or characters either having one disastrous accident after the other or trying to out-insult each. It isn't often that a film gives kids credit for being able to follow a more gentle and endearing story without falling asleep in boredom.
Mr Magorium's doesn't take the easy route. This is a tale about magic and believing in yourself, about having fun and using your imagination, about challenging the limits and about seeing the good in each other and inevitable situations, like Mr Magorium's demise.
Although there is certainly humour peppered throughout, it isn't really the films strongest point. What is, is the tenderness with which the concept of death is handled and the focus on the beauty around us that we so often take for granted. There is a strong message of love and kindness and caring for each other which can so often be missed in this day in age. The idea that although the inevitable end of one story can be sad, it is important to remember, with each ending comes a new beginning is a wonderful message to our kids and it is handled with great care. It is a lovely sentiment that thanks to the goofy nature of the characters and the light-hearted and sweet script doesn't overpower the film, allowing our wee ones to enjoy the pure fantasy of it all.
Did the actors/characters sparkle?
I was blown away by the warmth evident between the characters and a genuine feeling that the actors all seemed to like each other and be enjoying the experience of making this film.
I was mildly disappointed that Dustin Hoffman (Mr Magorium) wasn't in the film longer but his performance was all that I hoped it to be. With a soft lispy voice and mischievious grin, he was a very likeable character you couldn't fail to warm too. Above all Hoffman made Mr Magorium seem like he was having a ball every minute of everyday. Apart from the sweet and silly side we were first introduced to, Hoffman also pulled off the more serious side with great class. His last scene had me bawling into my popcorn, but I still had a smile on my face.
Natalie Portman (Molly Mahoney) is a beautiful girl and she seemed to almost float in this film. For the part, she was perfect although her role was fairly well supported by the others taking some of the pressure off. When acting with any of her co-stars, she came to life and was a joy to watch, but when appearing on screen on her own, without the others to bounce off of, she fell a little flat. Sadly, her performance in the last scene, which should have been the most beautiful piece of the whole film, was a bit wooden and unnatural looking. She just appeared a bit to choreographed on occasion.
I have always felt Jason Bateman (Henry Weston) was one of those actors just waiting in the wings for his chance to prove himself. With the help of the critically acclaimed TV show Arrested Development under his belt, he has clearly gained some credit in Hollywood and rightly so. The contrast of his straight-laced, efficient and right-brained character against the wacky backdrop of the Emporium was brilliant. Of all the characters, we had the pleasure of watching his develop the most. I was impressed that even as a humourless, grey accountant Bateman still held that glimmer in his eye which gave the audience a sliver of hope for him yet.
Zach Mills (Eric Applebaum) is a talent to remember. He will without a doubt be on our screens a great deal in the years to come. At 12 years old he has a charm on screen that we would expect from a veteran of the silver screen. He is relaxed and comfortable in his role as the eccentric young shop assistant who struggles to make friends with kids his own age. It is very easy to become absorbed in his play on screen. I for one was almost immediately taken in by his endearing, quirky, hat-collecting kid who clearly doesn't recognize how unique he really is. He made this film for me.
Did the cinematography and soundtrack bring the magic to life?
In order to make the magic of the store come across on stage, the production designed Therese DePrez, Costume designer Christopher Hargadon and Visual Effects Designer Kevin Tod Haug worked closely together to develop a rainbow-hued fantasy world for the audience to enjoy.
Making a toy shop that doesn't stock the latest Nintendo Wii Game, or have a DVD section appealing to young viewers is not an easy task and it took a fair amount of creativity on the part of the Mr Magorium's team. Contrasting the brightness of the colours in the magic world against the grey and muted tones of the real world was key to bringing the film to life. Taking it one step further and establishing mood and genuine sentiment purely through the use of colour was inspired.
The toys which for the most part would be considered old fashioned today come to life through wonderfully choreographed movements. It was like watching the whole set dance. I won't even get into how wonderful the wall of stuffed animals was with top marks going to one sad little monkey in particular.
There were times when it felt as if there were too many things going on at once. I got worried I would miss something clever in the background as so much was happening independently of each other, but at the same time.
The soundtrack composed by the talented and successful Alexandre Desplat and Aaron Zigman was as enchanting as it needed to be. Their music offers a touch of imagination and fantasy and should please most film music fans. Like the film, the music takes us on a journey. It has a dreamy quality which adds the necessary whimsical tone to the film.
My final thoughts - what really counts
I have heard people compare this film unfavourably to Johnny Depp's Charlie and the Chocolate factory and I'm not entirely sure I understand why. The two are very different films. Mr Magorium's never tries to be the big spectacle piece that Charlie and the Chocolate factory was. It is a much more intimate film which as an audience member I felt connected with. There is a genuine fondness for the characters and the story and the warmth is infectious.
This is a wonderful film for dreamers and idealists like me. Give yourself over and get swept away with the magic.
We went to see Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium just after Christmas, as we were looking for something we could go to as a family with three young children (9,6 and 3). We hadn't heard of it before we got to the cinema, so we went without any expectations.
==== PLOT SUMMARY ====
Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) is the 243 year old owner of a toy shop with a difference (the Wonder Emporium), since he has imbued it with his magic, his emotion and his sense of wonder. In short, it is the sort of toy shop that is the stuff of dreams. The store manager is Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), an insecure 23 year old, whose promise as a child prodigy pianist has been dissipated and who has rather lost her way, and does not really know how to find it again.
Mr Magorium wants to hand bequeath the store to Mahoney, so calls in an accountant, Henry Weston (Jason Bateman), to do all the necessary paperwork. The other main character is a 9 year old misfit, called Eric (Zach Mills), who hangs round the toy shop and tries to befriend the workaholic Weston.
The film follows the last few days of Mr Magorium's life before he hands the shop onto Mahoney, who struggles to see this as something she can or even wants to do.
==== EVALUATION ====
This is quite an unusual film in that there is not a lot of plot to it. You obviously have to suspend disbelief more than normal to accept that Mr Magorium could really be that old, yet still full of the same imagination, enthusiasm and vitality that makes his store so magical. However, once you accept the basic premise, aided by the zebra in the living room, the story moves you along as you get to know the characters. Magorium is eccentric but sets the rules, Mahoney is unsure, but lovable, Eric is there to help, even if he has no real friends, and Weston is the accountant, as drab and dull as the popular impression of accountants would sometimes have us believe. This is summed up when Magorium is asked what an accountant is, and he replies, "it's a cross between a counter and a mutant", from which point on Weston is only referred to as Mutant.
The special effects are really good. The thing that I particularly liked was the way in which the toy shop is brought to life. It is done so that the toys come to life in a way which brings out their essential nature and therefore do not overwhelm the film, but enhance it. One particular soft toy, a monkey with a mournful face) is a good case in point. The big book which contains all the products in the shop is a particularly memorable and clever effect.
The character of the Mutant is drawn out sympathetically and realistically, with the burgeoning friendship between him and Eric amusing and touching. You can feel the pathos when Eric asks if he'd like to play checkers when he finishes work, to which the Mutant replies "I never stop work". Equally, it is the unlikely friendship between the Mutant and Mahoney that is the catalyst for self-belief.
Interestingly, the main sub-theme of the film is death and coping with it. I think it rather passed over the heads of our children. Magorium approaches his impending death as the most natural thing, and makes preparations accordingly, without becoming maudlin or showing any signs of ill-heath, which causes not a little confusion. The references to King Lear were particularly thought-provoking, where Magorium says after 5 acts of the ultimate drama, Shakespeare merely says, 'he dies' - the point being that it is a simple departure. Although the shop and Mahoney mourn for Magorium, the next chapter remains to be written.
The film is structured as chapters from a book of the life of Magorium and the shop. This is a helpful device for breaking up the different episodes, which otherwise could have felt too bitty, not least because the plot is so light.
Other downsides include the character of Mahoney. I couldn't understand why someone who was a concert pianist, who could play Rachmaninov's 2nd concerto as a part piece when she was 12, would be in this shop, and Portman's portrayal seemed to convey a similar lack of conviction. Some of the events are too twee and too saccharine for my taste, but I guess you have to accept these in this type of film.
Overall though, my immediate reaction was that I had really enjoyed what I thought was a nice film. It is a good family film, and the two older children were completely entranced by the toy shop, although my 3 year old's attention wandered at times. I liked the old-fashioned feel to the credits, with clever faux-simple ideas, eg special effects is described as "people who put in things which weren't there". The Mutant's performance was warm and human, and Eric the 9 year old is played with aplomb. Dustin Hoffman's Magorium has too much of Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter for my taste, and I found Portman disappointing. All in all, a very enjoyable family film, but nothing totally overwhelming or earth-shattering.
This film is currently at the cinema, and I have not been able to find out the release date for the DVD.
==== PRACTICAL DETAILS ====
Mr Magorium - Dustin Hoffman
Molly Mahoney - Natalie Portman
Henry Weston (The Mutant) - Jason Bateman
Eric - Zach Mills
Bellini, the Bookbuilder - Ted Ludzik
Director - Zach Helm
Producers - Joe Drake, Nathan Kahane, Richard Gladstein
Screenplay - Zach Helm
Running time - 94 mins
Certificate - U
Website - www.magorium.com
Personal rating - 7/10