What this world needs now is a little wonder and Magorium delivers. My surprise nomination for movie of the year is a delight with fun for the whole family.
Mr. Magorium, well acted by the great Dustin Hoffman, is 243 years old and runs a magical toy store. In all that time, Magorium never pursued his doctorate? It’s a wonder. It really is. I must say that I skipped this one over at the video store (I mean, Netflix queue) time and again thinking it probably some inane rehash of Robin Williams in Toys. Boy, was I wrong. I sat more enthralled than my 3 year old.
Magorium has purchased plenty of one particularly perfect pair of pedal pushers for perpetuity (that’s alliteration for all you non-English majors out there). But he’s on his last pair of loafers and feels he must leave the store to his store manager, Molly Mahoney, the winsome as always, Natalie Portman, before he leaves this world. Mahoney was considered a child prodigy at the piano and is constantly trying to finish her first symphonic masterpiece. The fingers of her right hand repeatedly tap out the notes trying to find the right melody which seamlessly creates part of the soundtrack.
Eric, a 9-year-old hat collector is a fixture of the store, but cannot seem to make friends despite his amazing creative talents (see life-size linkin’ log sculpture). His mother charges him with trying to make friends so he can avoid the social nightmare of summer camp and thus he attempts to befriend the least likely candidate: an accountant who is all work, and no play.
The Accountant Henry Weston played by Jason Bateman is hired by Magorium to evaluate the worth of his store that he might pass it on to Mahoney. Henry, labeled “the Mutant,” is your typical stodgy number-cruncher without an imaginative bone in his body, or at least that’s what we’re led to believe.
The Emporium itself is a great character. Like Willie Wonka’s elevator, you can turn a knob and find a room in a seemingly different universe. It’s walls begin to turn gray at the thought of Magorium leaving. Like a mad toddler, it throws a little bit of a temper tantrum, and the toys reflect the mood of the store as evidenced by a lonely sock puppet monkey who just needs a hug or a cranky lemur where a new toy should be.
The message is typical for kids movies that dreams can come true if you believe in them. However, it has an equally important message to adults. In Mahoney’s failure to acheive the lofty expectations of her peers she embraces an equally wondrous destiny: a block of wood. No, you’ll have to watch to find out.
For kids from one to ninety-two, this is movie that will heal you and help you believe.