Starring: Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Bateman
Director: Zach Helm
Running Time: 93 mins
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is an American film about a magical toy store whose owner of over one hundred years decides it’s time to go away. He places the store’s future in the hands of the young woman who works there, but her insecurities mean she doesn’t truly believe that she can keep the store as magical as it has always been.
This is a nice little film. Short, sweet, colourful and full of magical joy, it’s sure to put a smile on kids’ faces, and maybe even yours. With some very pleasant central performances, lovely visuals and a good sense of humour, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a lot more enjoyable than many kids’ movies, although its rather thin story means it’s not the most riveting watch.
Let’s start on the bright side, however, with the wonderful atmosphere. In an almost identical setting to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, the magical toy store where children’s wishes always come true is the perfect way to bring about a happy and cheery feeling right from the start of the film. Couple that with the eye-popping use of colour wherever you look, and you’ve got the very definition of a big screen storybook movie.
Working well in tandem with that pleasant atmosphere are the performances. All of the characters here are more cartoonish than they are interesting, but the lead actors do a great job to make sure they’re as fun as possible to watch on screen.
Dustin Hoffman is delightful as the eccentric Mr. Magorium, Natalie Portman is lovely as a magic-loving but insecure young woman, Jason Bateman is great fun as the cartoonishly dull accountant, and the young Zach Mills represents the kid in us all very well.
In short, there’s a lot to smile about in this film, and if you turn your brain off and just expect a film that will make you happy with its innocent and storybook-like atmosphere, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.
However, there is one big gaping issue with this film: the story. Whilst it’s ridiculous to expect lofty levels of storytelling excellence, I was disappointed with how generic and simple the story is here. There are meant to be a lot more emotional and dramatic moments, but none of them really land as a result of the formulaic story, as there’s nothing particularly interesting to grab you here.
Yes, it’s innocent, happy, and will definitely entertain the kids, but it’s also unfortunately the sort of story that can wrap everything up with a character clicking their fingers and letting the magic take care of it all, which just isn’t at all satisfying to see.
Overall, I did enjoy Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, thanks to its performances and uplifting visual style that make for a very pleasant atmosphere. However, its story really isn’t up to scratch, and means that all of the film’s attempts to go beyond just being nice fall flat, so that’s why I’m giving this a 7.0.