Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

This is possibly the best children's movie I have seen in a long time. Zach Helm, in his directorial debut, crafts a world of wonder not seen since Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- and this one isn't creepy as hell. You can't help but feel like a kid and leave with a smile on your face.

Dustin Hoffman plays Mr. Magorium, the owner the titular Emporium. After an over 200 year career, he is thinking of leaving his store to Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman) the manager. I will say it's a bit difficult to watch her in a children's movie after seeing her in Closer. Enter Henry Weston (Jason Bateman), the exasperated accountant who is charged with organizing the store's financial records. Of course, he doesn't believe any of the magic surrounding the store (real magic, not the "illusions" his Arrested Developmental brother Gob created). In the midst of this shakeup, strange things start happening to the store.

There are a lot of undertones to this movie. Mahoney is a struggling musical prodigy, and must decide between following her dreams, or taking over the store. Weston is grounded in the real world and is unable to see the wonders going on around him. Throw into the mix Magorium facing his own mortality, and Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills), a nine-year old patron struggling with loneliness, and you get a whimsical movie filled with a lot of rather serious texts. All of these characters work so well together, bouncing opposing personalities and traits off each other. Mahoney is drawn between the far-out wonder of Magorium, and the analytic nature of Weston.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect out of this movie, but I loved it. It made me smile, and it actually made me feel good. Despite the movie being oh so fun, it deals with issues children and adults face- the loss of innocence and imagination, as well as isolation and loneliness. Go see this movie, and enjoy.


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