a critiQal film review Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is the strangest, most fantastic, most wonderful toy store in the world. In fact, it’s a magic toy store and everything in it comes to life -including the store itself. The Emporium asks only one thing of its customers -you must believe it to see it.

585 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 55s)

Looking for all the world like an updated version of Toys, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium wasn’t something on our must-see list when it was in theaters.

Still, with stars like Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman – and what looked to be a “back to comedy” role for Jason Bateman – we figured we’d check it out once it hit DVD. After all, with Dustin, Natalie and Jason leading the way, how bad could it really be?

Dustin Hoffman, as title character Mr. Magorium, looks to be a mix between The Absent-Minded Professor of Flubber and Willy Wonka from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, and acts a bit more like Johnny Depp’s version of Wonka in . While this odd behavior is the gist of his role (and the part that will entice kids to fall in love with the character), it’s not really deep enough to engage the adults.

Natalie Portman, as the apprentice destined for greatness, is a bit ill-used as well, as her character also seems on the flighty side, and never really connects with the audience. As proved again recently, she usually has a very compelling on-screen presence, but in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, that performance is a lost a bit amid all the wondrous special effects.

Jason Bateman, on the other hand, seems to really step it up for this film. While he is very much a secondary character, his interactions with the young Eric (played by Zachary Mills) are some of the highlights of the film, as Jason’s character shows he’s still managed to maintain his youthful playfullness despite his dull job – even if it does take Eric a bit of prodding to bring it out of him.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium deals with a tough subject (death) in a very kid-friendly way, overshadowing the sorrow with whimsy and loads of special effects. Unfortunately for older viewers, the film also keeps viewers as detached as possible from the story (probably to further distance kids from the upcoming death) – even going so far as to naming chapters of the film, thus keeping the idea this is only a story firmly in the forefront. While this does help make this film more kid-friendly than a Disney flick, it’s a bit disappointing for older viewers who like getting lost in a film.

To keep the viewer interested, despite the distancing, the filmmakers have packed Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium chock ful of fun special effects that should delight kids and adults alike. Whether it be a collossal bouncy ball or a paper airplane that seems to fly of it’s own accord, the on-screen store is the center of attention for most of the film, and with good reason.

Despite the multitudes of special effects involved in making the store look so exciting, there doesn’t seem to be a single glitch. Never once does the store look to be anything but magical, and that’s just the way the filmmakers wanted it.

Despite being a bit too kid-friendly, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a decent family film. The kids will love it, and the adults should enjoy it as well, even if Natalie and Dustin’s performances are a bit too cartoonish to be anything more than fluff pieces. With such a magical store, the performances seem almost secondary, as the viewers will be trying to catch as many glimpses of the myriad of toy effects than in whatever else is happening on-screen.

All in all, not a bad rental, but not without it’s flaws.

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