Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) owns and runs the most magical store in the universe, where all of the toys for sale are alive. But, when the aging shopkeeper decides to retire and sell the business to his faithful cashier (Natalie Portman), he hires an uptight accountant (Jason Bateman) to get his affairs in order.
Equal parts whimsical and bittersweet, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
is a family-friendly movie that will charm youngsters. Dustin Hoffman stars in the titular role of an eccentric 243-year-old owner of a magical toy store. He doesn't appear to be sick, but he has lived a long and happy life and is content to leave his emporium to his employee Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman). A former child prodigy who has grown up unsure of herself, she barely knows who she is, much less what she wants to become. Molly is both frightened that her beloved boss is leaving and that she will be left in charge of a store she doesn't know how to run. "Are you dying?" she asks him. Magorium points out, "Light bulbs die, my dear. I am departing." His take on death is both comforting and matter of fact, things younger viewers may find soothing when dealing with mortality. Though the film has drawn comparisons to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
, this G-rated venture is less dark, curious and interesting than the former. Still, it offers dazzling visuals and a premise that who you are isn't equivalent with who you think you are. Adult moviegoers may find the premise cloying and repetitive. But seen from a child's eye, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
is indeed a magical place for a short visit. --Jae-Ha Kim
Stills from Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Beyond Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium