Sunday, October 12, 2014
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007)
IMDb plot summary: Molly Mahoney is the awkward and insecure manager of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, the strangest, most fantastic, most wonderful toy store in the world. But when Mr. Magorium, the 243 year-old eccentric who owns the store, bequeaths the store to her, a dark and ominous change begins to take over the once remarkable Emporium.
Directed by Zach Helm. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman, and Zach Mills.
(Some mild spoilers ahead.)
I'm... not sure about this one. To help me sort out my thoughts, I've decided to organize this review into a positive/negative format.
On the positive side, the characters are really interesting and likable. There's a delightful sense of whimsy and charming sense of humor scattered throughout, including lots of little amusing lines that just have perfect delivery. I giggled quite a few times. I was particularly drawn to the characters of Eric and Henry, as they seemed the most... well, the most like real people. We'll get to that in a second.
On the negative side, there are quite a few moments where it is just TOO quirky and whimsical for its own good. I got tired of Mr. Magorium himself long before the movie does, and though Natalie Portman's character is clearly meant to be the central character, her character arc is scattered and gets mired in awkward sentimentality at the end in a way that made me roll my eyes rather than say, "Aw." I also have little patience for the "you just have to believe in yourself" trope, and it's delivered in a VERY heavy-handed manner here. (Also, thanks to that awful "Miracles" song, I couldn't help but snicker when Portman's character tells the little boy that the magnetic toy is magic. Magnets, how do they work?)
This is just a couple tweaks away from being a *really* good movie, but those few tweaks really do drag down the movie for me overall, as well as mostly breaking the climactic ending scene. I like the fantasy elements a lot, and two of the four main characters were wonderful, but I wish the movie had felt like it was trying a little less hard to MAKE it whimsical.
Flickchart: #851 out of 2236, below The Miracle Worker and above Rachel Getting Married.