Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium

directed by Zach Helm

Mr Magoriums Wonder Emporium poster  
Mr Magorium is the eccentric old proprietor of a magical toy shop. With his Einstein hair and the many delights of his shop, his character seems to be a lot like Willy Wonka, only friendlier.

Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman) helps out in the store, although she feels that her career has lost direction. She wanted to be a concert pianist, and to wow people with her own compositions. But she lacks self-belief, and can't seem to write the piece that will make her mark. She's one of the few friends of Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills), a young boy who struggles with socialising. He's good natured, but so shy that he usually ends up playing alone.

Being magical, Mr Magorium has managed to reach his 243rd year without so much as looking frail. But all good things must come to an end, and he knows his number is up. So he hires Henry (Jason Bateman), an accountant who he always refers to as a Mutant, to help him put his affairs in order before it's too late.

Henry finds plenty to wonder about in the shop's accounts, and as a workaholic in a grey suit he stands out in that very colourful place. But his arrival marks a change in the store, which seems to be losing its magic.

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium may be aiming to be slightly poignant, but it comes across as very, very saccharine. Hoffman plays Mr Magorium with a facial expression that makes him look somewhat simple. It's apt, because simple is what this film is. The dialogue isn't great, lacking any particularly memorable lines or good jokes. Most children over the age of about 8 will find this film too time, and parents who let their offspring watch it won't feel inclined to share the experience. There aren't any gags that are meant to be understood on one level by adults and on another by children.

The lesson behind Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is one of self-belief: just believe in yourself, wave your hands a little, and everything will come right. It's absurdly optimistic, and glosses over the difficulties of life. The trouble is, showing the audience something magical isn't special in itself. There needs to be some kind of contrast, something going on that's bad enough to make the audience care about the fantastic effects, and this movie just doesn't have it.

Film Details

Year: 2007

Categories: Films

  Kids     Fantasy

Classification: U

If you like this, try:

Arthur and the Invisibles cover    

Arthur and the Invisibles by Luc Besson
A boy shrinks to the size of an insect and goes on an adventure in order to rescue his home.

1 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson