Review of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

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Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman star in this family fantasy movie that centers on a magical toy store. After owning and operating the store for over a century, the 243-year-old Mr. Magorium (Hoffman) has decided it's time for him to leave the world. He's hoping a young Molly Mahoney (Portman) will take over, but she has her doubts about being able to handle it.
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Movie Review: "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

-- Rating: G (General Audiences)
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: Nov. 16, 2007
Directed by: Zach Helm
Genre: Comedy, Family, and Fantasy

The movie trailer for "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" gives viewers the feeling that the movie is simply about a magical toy store. In fact, the trailer almost succeeds in convincing fans that this film is a knock off of "Willy Wonka." However, those who have watched the whole movie know that it has much more to offer. It actually offers an extremely engaging and wonderful look at common questions about life and death.

"Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" was released in theaters in the United States in 2007. It stars Dustin Hoffman as toy impresario Mr. Edward Magorium and Natalie Portman as the toy store manager Molly Mahoney. Other characters include Henry Weston (Jason Bateman) the accountant, Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills) the hat collector, and Bellini (Ted Ludzik) the book builder.

Mr. Magorium is a jolly fellow who owns a magical toy store. He is 234 years old, and he is planning to retire. While the concept of retirement is synonymous with leaving work and going home to rest for a while for most people, this is not the case with the eccentric Mr. Magorium: He is actually planning to retire, having led a wonderful and joyous life.

The magical toy shop often comes to life. It is a bit childish at times, perhaps as a result of its affiliation with the younger members of society. The store often throws tantrums. When Mahoney tells Mr. Magorium about her feelings of being stuck in place, he gives her a magical wooden cube to use as a guide, although she isn't exactly sure how to use it. The toy shop owner tells Mahoney of his plans to leave the shop to her. She is not enthralled with the idea, believing that she is inadequate to the task of handling such a huge responsibility.

When Mahoney realizes that her manager and friend is dying, she panics and takes him to the hospital; however, he is released the next day. After his death and burial, Mahoney decides to sell the store against the accountant's advice. She later changes her mind after witnessing the cube's magic and decides to keep it after all.

This film aptly captures the expectations that many people have about life and how they struggle with grief and death. The emotional moments in the film are very intense, and they are not softened by the seemingly rough edges of Mr. Magorium. A case in point is the farewell scene between Mahoney and Mr. Magorium. In addition to the emotional intensity expressed in this scene, many people agree that this part of the film has some of the best dialogue. Some moviegoers' eyes became misty during this intense scene. Moments such as this make "Mr. Magorium's Magic Emporium" a warm and delightful story rather than a bland one.

This movie is not an over-the-top fantasy movie. This does not take anything away from its charm, and young fans in particular love its magical presentations. One of the overriding themes in the movie is that a person can be strange and baffling, but he will nonetheless have people who love and cherish him. It may even be the case that these quirky characters attract admirers. Mr. Magorium does not ooze with linguistic finesse, but his wonderful, bright ideas make up for this shortcoming. This is not a movie that will bore you because it has numerous subplots that will keep you entertained until the end.

This fantasy was written and directed by Zach Helm. His first screenplay, "Stranger than Fiction," was released in 2006 and won the PEN USA and National Board of Review best screenplay awards. "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" is his directorial debut, and his work appears to be successful.

Hoffman has been dabbling in television, theater, and film since the 1960s. Most of his roles over the years have involved portraying antiheroes and vulnerable characters. This artist is very talented, and he even won a Theater World Award for one of his early plays, "Eh?." Some of his most notable movies include "Papillon," "Tootsie," "Kramer vs. Kramer," and "Rain Man." Hoffman has won numerous awards during his career, including Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and Emmy Awards. He brings this award-winning talent for character immersion to his role as Mr. Magorium. Portman is a young and talented actress who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2005 for her role in "Drama." Her talent is clearly visible in this 2007 film as evidenced by the emotion and depth of character she exudes onscreen. This movie is oddly enchanting.

Rating: 3 out of 5