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4.4 out of 5 stars
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (Widescreen Edition)
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2013
Just watched this for the 567th time. I think I finally get it. Can anyone recommend similar titles? Thank you.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2013
I'm not much of a movie guy, but this one's great for those long winter nights. I own two copies!
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67 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2008
I would just like to say that it is rare in this day and age for a theater audience to stand and applaud at the end of a movie. That is exactly what happened when I saw Mr. Magorium.
It is also rare for a movie to captivate, not only myself and my wife, but my 13 year old, 10 year old and especially my 4 year old all at the same time.
It was a truly magical movie. Dustin Hoffman was brilliant and brought the charm of Mr. Magorium to life; a performance matched only perhaps by that of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.
To those who suggest this is a child's movie. They are correct. It is for children...of all ages.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2008
A breath of fresh air of a family movie. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is simple in its storytelling about believing in your self, finding the magic in your life. It is an enchanting movie; entertaining without the typical hper-action, potty/burping humor or street-smart smack talk so overdone in every other "family" movie these days.

Charming. Brilliantly understated acting; not over the top in any way, no sterotypical characterizations. Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman and child actor Zach Mills played true to their characters, filled with wonder, believable. I can only imagine that the movie's negative reviews are based on reviewers having preconcieved ideas of what they "thought" the movie would be like. This is a simple Willy Wonka-esque story, 90 minutes of enchanting entertainment without hype or preachiness. Slow down and enjoy it!
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This is a terrific family movie that is suitable for children of all ages. There are, to a degree, some parallels with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory [HD DVD]. However, for the most part it is its own movie. It centers around a man (played by Dustin Hoffman) who wishes to leave the management / ownership of his magical toy store to his favorite employee (portrayed by Natalie Portman) as he can sense that his end is near. Unfortunately, Portman's character is apprehensive about taking over the toy store, mostly stemming from a lack of self-confidence.

To be sure, many will say that this film is predictable, and so it is. However, the people who criticize it on such grounds are, I believe, missing the point. Granted, there are no real "hooks" in the plot or plot-twists that will keep you guessing. So what? In a movie like this, it really doesn't matter. At base, to me the film is not so much about the story itself as it is about how we all used to look upon the world with such a sense of wonder when we were children. People who are only looking for surprises are not prone to "getting it" insofar as this DVD is concerned.

The casting is terrific with Hoffmann and Portman leading the way. Hoffmann gets his chance to play a sort of pseudo-Santa Clause, and it's evident that he enjoyed himself immensely. I've always like Portman, and it's nice to see a young woman who is both a fine actress as well as a great person. She is kind of the antipode to "bad girls" like Lindsay Lohan.

If you are the parent of small children, I'd highly recommend this film. If you're not a parent of small children but enjoy feeling like a kid again, this one is recommended to an equal degree.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2008
[Mild spoilers in this review:]

This is a unique movie. The plot is relatively simple - Toy Store Owner prepares his assistant to take over the business. There is no villain in the form of a character. I suppose the "villain," or conflict in the plot, is "lack of imagination." This is initially personified in the form of a dry, by-the-books accountant, however this character is by no means the villain in this story. "Lack of imagination" is the force opposing Mr. Magorium and his whimsical store.

I suspect that mainstream America and the critics didn't respond favorably to this movie for two reasons: marketing this movie was difficult; and much of mainstream America and the critics are guilty of exhibiting the same element that served as the conflict in the movie: "lack of imagination."

For example, in one scene, the witless accountant finally gives in to others' use of imagination and tries being imaginative himself by wearing silly hats and pretending to be someone else. He and a young boy act out fairy tale stories and let their imagination run wild. The boy's mother discovers them and is immediately suspicious of the accountant's intentions. It's as if the movie is commenting on some people that perhaps don't "get it." Additionally, as if life were imitating art, there were some people that didn't "get" this movie.

My family (with two kids aged 6 and 3) thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and we could comfortably watch it without fear of "toilet gags" and without anxiety of seeing crude/vulgar moments. And this movie also effectively addressed the potentially disturbing subject of "death." I liked the approach here.

Like the characters in the movie, give Mr. Magorium a chance. And let your imagination flow with the movie.

Favorite line: "Light bulbs die. I am departing."
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2008
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium champions classic toys and the stores that used to carry them before the proliferation of chain stores like Toys R Us and Wal-Mart made them virtually extinct. In this age of crass commercialism, this film celebrates idealism and imagination - things that our world so desperately needs.

Dustin Hoffman portrays Magorium as an optimistic Willy Wonka-type who is a genius toy maker and has a pet zebra in his home. He runs a magical toy store complete with an enormous book that lists the store's entire inventory and going to the appropriate page magically produces said toy. Each character has their own dilemma to resolve: Eric has to make a friend; Henry has to learn how to have fun, and Molly's desire to create music instead of running the Emporium. The cast is uniformly excellent, from Natalie Portman's engaging turn as Molly to Jason Bateman as the button-down accountant.

There is an absolutely charming scene where Henry and Eric communicate on opposite sides of a pane of glass via handwritten messages to the Cat Stevens' song, "Don't Be Shy" that demonstrates director Zach Helm's skill a visual storyteller. It was at this moment that I wondered if he is a fan of Hal Ashby's films as this song was used prominently in Harold and Maude. This hunch was confirmed with Ashby's surname popping up in a scene as a store name. It is these little touches, like the nervous slinky or the gigantic dodge ball that fills an entire room or Magorium's hospital room at night decorated with many glow-in-the-dark stars, that make this film such a joy to watch.

He adopts a vibrant colour scheme with the larger shocks of colour being primary in nature and then the smaller details (toys and clothes) comprised of secondary and tertiary colours. For example, the hospital that Magorium stays in is dominated by golden yellows while warm, brown wood dominates the Emporium. The entire film is like a giant box of Crayola crayons exploded all over it.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is not at all what I expected it to be (to be honest, I had little to no expectations) and was pleasantly surprised by how charming and imaginative this film turned out to be. It makes a convincing argument for keeping magic and wonderment alive. So often we grow up and either lose or ignore these feelings. There's more to life than dollars and sense. Mr. Magorium is a wonderful film that appeals to your heart without being so obviously manipulative and celebrates imagination over conformity. It also appeals to children with condescending to them and to adults who haven't forgotten what it's like to be a kid.

"Strangely Weird and Weirdly Strange: The Magical World of a Wonder Emporium" is comprised of four featurettes that take brief looks at various aspects of the film. The first one features cast and crew praising director Zach Helm. Another takes a look at how the Sock Monkey puppet works. We also see how the production dealt with an actual zebra on the set. Finally, we see how the life-sized sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln was made entirely out of Lincoln Logs.

"An Eccentric Boss and An Awkward Apprentice" takes a look at the characters of Mr. Magorium and Molly Mahoney. Not surprisingly, the actors were drawn to the project because of the well-written script. Cast and crew speak highly of Hoffman and Portman. The two actors describe their characters.

"To Meet Eric Applebaum, Start by Saying Hi" takes a look at Eric and the actor who plays him, Zach Mills. Like the previous featurette, the character is described and the actor is praised. He was picked out of 1,200 other kids.

"The Magical Toy Store" examines the fantastic set that was the toy store. Helm and the production designer worked together to create a big playground for kids. They wanted to create the impression that the store really existed. There's also footage of this set being constructed.

Finally, there is "Fun on the Set," a montage of the cast and crew goofing around on and off the set.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2008
Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium: Truly Wonderous!
It is a rare film that holds your attention hours after you see the credits roll. Mr Magorium is that, and more. It is, at its' core, a modern day parable that speaks to the power and magic of faith.
On the surface, Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporioum is a toy store for the ages. The children come into play in brightly lit corners stacked high with toys, games, books, and models. Rockets fly around the ceiling. A magical ball room transforms itself into an upstairs suite with the twist of a knob. The life of the store is reflected in the joy of the children and parents who enter the doors.
Mr Edward Magorium is dying. 243 years old, and his shoes are finally wearing out. As he explains to his assistant, Molly Mahoney, his last pair of shoes is wearing out and he knows that when they do, he will die. To prepare for the event, he hires an accountant, Henry Weston, to evaluate the value of the store and the contents. Magorium, names him Mutant, and throughout the whole film, Henry discovers the oddities that define a 200 year old man. $300,000 for a door knob (I've never paid more than $250,000). An IOU from the Thomas Edison. Century old toys. And a book keeping system that defies logic and belief. It's almost too much for a trained Mutant to bear!

Like a living being, the toy store ebbs and moves. Cracks appear on the walls. The life within the toys wanes and the atmosphere is less magical. A young assistant, Eric Applebaum,
On the passing of Mr Magorium, the store 'dies' as well. But not before he presents a gift to Molly of a large block presumably possessing magical powers. Unable to sustain the life of the store and business flow, Molly closes and prepares to sell much to the disappointment of Eric Applebaum, the young hat collector who works at the store.

When all is darkest, and Molly's dream of finishing her grand masterpiece, she discovers the missing piece to the puzzle. When all is dark, and she is about to sign the store over, she discovers the magic behind the emporium.

"Move" "Move" "Fly...." is all that is required when her journey to joy takes flight as her faith is renewed and the toy store explodes! In one broad stroke, he symphony is complete, and the deadened toy store comes to life once more.

I said before this is a modern day parable, and I believe it is. Beneath the toys lies the truth of the mustard seed. "If I have faith as a mustard seed, I could say to the mountain, move, and it shall MOVE!" And it does.

There are other themes too. Joy in the journey. Youth. Living life to its' fullest. Passing on of our faith. Mourning.

Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman are wonderfully cast in this film. The `mutant', Justin Bateman, plays a perfect straight man.

This is a true family film that is not fluff. Talk about it. Watch it together. Share it. That's what the `parable of the toy store' is all about.

Tim Lasiuta
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon March 15, 2008
OK, I didn't quite know what to make of this movie. It has its charms. Unlike some folks, I didn't mind Dustin Hoffman's choice of hair and lisp for Mr. Magorium. The man is supposed to be more than two hundred years old, magical, and imbued with a childlike wonder of life. Yet, the story really isn't about him. The story is about Molly Mahoney, played by Natalie Portman (one of the actors I always enjoy). She was a child prodigy on the piano who, the story says, played the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto. Yeah, right. No one who could actually play that concerto as a child would ever find there way behind the counter of a toy store. The sad history of prodigies does indicate a poor chance for her to progress into permanent pianistic stardom, but she would likely stay in music or head into some other intellectual profession. Oh, and the kind of music the movie has her "composing" and playing is just absurd. Portman's hands look as if they have had lessons and played the piano, but they are not hands strong enough or experienced enough for a big concerto. As the Master Thespian used to declare, "Acting!"

Magorium hires an accountant, a counting-mutant, to help him figure out what the store is worth since he has never even seen a receipt. The hiring of Henry Weston (played by Jason Bateman - whom I also always enjoy) is one of the more delightful scenes in the movie. Of course the store is in a state beyond disarray. Magorium isn't big on explaining why he wants the Mutant (as he is affectionately called). The other delightful character in the movie is Eric Applebaum (delightfully done by Zach Mills). Eric is a lonely boy with amazing creativity, a superb collection of hats, and zero friends. Given his personality that seems as impossible as Molly's playing Rachmaninoff.

The store Magorium runs is indeed magical, and we are given abundant evidence of it. However, it understands Magorium's secret, as do some of the toys, and none are happy about it. Magorium intends to give the store to Molly, who doesn't want it because she wants Magorium to stay. He can't or won't. The store turns entirely black after he goes and Molly intends to sell it. But Eric and the Mutant want her to keep it. The climax of the story, which is about the power of being aware of the magic that is your life and the power of believing in yourself, is whether or not Molly can bring the store to its former glory or whether she lets it slip away. Take a big guess.

So, some of the things in the story didn't work for me. I didn't like that no one has an actual complete family. Magorium's history is largely never discussed nor is how he lived to be a couple of hundred years old. We do learn about his delight in the kind of shoes wears. Molly is alone except for the store (no boyfriend, fiancé, mother, or father), Eric has a Mom but only because he is nine. She doesn't do much except fret. The Mutant is as alone and as detached Molly. And the issue surrounding Magorium's decision actually makes no sense and has nothing of the weight such events have in real life.

Yet, my opinion of the movie changed when my five year old granddaughter watched it. She was delighted and mesmerized and demanded to see it again immediately. And she has watched it twice more since. So, there is obviously something about the movie that is compelling to a small child that escapes me as an adult, deeply into the realities of life. Hmmmm... take that for what you will and I added a star because of my grandchild's enthusiasm. It is not a bad movie. The special effects are a bit much. However, it is successful for the kids. Go with them, I guess.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2008
The most magical thing about this film is that it was made. It is a movie that isn't about anything except the joys we all overlook. Yes there is death but that comes to us all, whether we are willing to admit it or not. But this had positive things to say about not only the end of stories but about how sometimes the beginnings are much more difficult than those ends. It was lovely and kind and pleasant in an innocent way that I haven't seen on the screen in a very very long time. There was no meanness or anger or sarcasm, just a joy in a pair of journeys, one ending and one beginning. This film will move people who want to be moved, to find those parts of ourselves we as adults have worked so hard to lose.
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