An 'Emporium' of Light Delights

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

An 'Emporium' of Light Delights


Byline: Kelly Jane Torrance, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

"Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" is a film about growing up and a film about rediscovering your inner child - although not both at the same time, of course.

The talented young writer-director Zach Helm, who penned last year's clever "Stranger Than Fiction" and makes his directorial debut here, has made that rare thing: a G-rated film that will both charm children and offer adults more than a little food for thought.

Mr. Magorium, the proprietor of the toy store in the film's title, is played with a touching mixture of crazy joy and understated melancholy by two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman, who gives his best performance in quite some time. The old man made toys for Napoleon and played games with Lincoln.

"That would make you 240 years old, sir," accountant Henry Weston (Jason Bateman) says in disbelief. "You're already hired, mutant, there's no need to show off," Mr. Magorium responds. (The shopkeeper thinks the word accountant is a contraction of counting mutant.)

However, Henry is the one who needs to get back in touch with his fun side. He's been hired to calculate the worth of the store, and he can't understand how toys appear out of nowhere and rooms full of them disappear just as quickly. Store manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman) insists that the "simple explanation" he's looking for is obvious: "It's a magical toy store."

Molly believes unconditionally in Mr. Magorium and his magic emporium. What she doesn't believe in is herself. She's a failed composer looking for some direction in her life. She's fully in touch with her whimsical side, but still lives like a teenager. Mr. Magorium wants to provide that direction by leaving her his store when he departs from this Earth, which he plans to do that week. …

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