Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Edward Magorium, Avid Shoe-Wearer
Natalie Portman as Molly Mahoney, the Composer
Jason Bateman as Henry Weston, the Mutant
Ted Ludzik as Bellini, the Bookbuilder
Zach Mills as Eric Applebaum, the Hat Collector
Madalena Brancatella as Jessica, Who Got a Cowboy Hat
Paula Boudreau as Brenda, Who Wants a Mobile
Mike Realba as Dave Wolf, Who's an Engineer
Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog
Liam Powley-Webster as Andy, the Boy Who Likes to Color
Marcia Bennett as Lora, Who Wants a Fire Engine
Oliver Masuda as Jordan, Who Said Hi
Samantha Harvey as Cassie, the Girl Chased by a Goose
Jesse Bostick as Derek, Who Opened the Door
Isaac Durnford as Jason, Who's a Little Too Curious

Special Features:
Strangely Weird and Weirdly Strange: The Magical World of a Wonder Emporium
An Eccentric Boss and an Awkward Apprentice
The Meet Eric Applebaum, Start by Saying HI
The Magical Toy Store
Fun on the Set

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 94 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) owns and runs the most magical store in the universe, where all of the toys for sale are alive. But, when the aging shopkeeper decides to retire and sell the business to his faithful cashier (Natalie Portman), he hires an uptight accountant (Jason Bateman) to get his affairs in order."

"Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" is rated G.

Mini-Review:
There's a fine line between cute and annoying. "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" dances back and forth across that line for 94 minutes. On the annoying side, Mr. Magorium talks with a bizarre lisp, his idea of fun is jumping on beds in a mattress store, and in a 'bonding moment' he and Natalie Portman stomp on bubble wrap in the middle of a park. It was so sickeningly sweet I thought I was getting a cavity. I guess part of what made this annoying is that it all seemed so antiquated. For example, there's one scene where Jason Bateman as Henry Weston is playing alone in a room with Zach Mills as Eric Applebaum. It was a perfectly innocent moment, but it had a distinctly creepy vibe about it that made it unenjoyable as the boy's mother walks in on them.

On the cute side, there were some genuinely fun moments. Jason Bateman plays Henry Weston, an accountant who is dubbed early on as "Mutant." His perpetual obliviousness to the magic in the store creates a lot of funny bits. Many of the extra kids also provide amusing gags as they explore the store and encounter magical toys.

Natalie Portman has a mixed performance as Molly Mahoney. She has a cute little thing where she taps her fingers in the air while composing in her mind. This culminates in her conducting a full magical symphony in the store. It was a great combination of music and an actor's performance. She also has some funny scenes in the store as she deals with lemurs, bouncing balls, and other magical objects. Portman does have some rather wooden moments, but she shines most when she's with Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Edward Magorium. As annoying as Mr. Magorium is, he is somewhat tolerable because it seems like Hoffman's having so much fun playing him. Then there's Zach Mills as Eric Applebaum. The kid has acting talent, but he's a bit too sweet in this story.

I have to mention some of the out of place product placement in this film. Some of it is fun to see while some of it seems like an expensive commercial. For some bizarre reason, we see Kermit the Frog shopping in the store, but he's never seen again. In another scene, Magorium is seen stocking a shelf with Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars (I forget which). Who needs them when there's a magical dinosaur right next to them? We also see Playmobil toys come to life. This is a little more tolerable, but they still seem out of place in the Emporium.

Overall, I found "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" to be just way too cute to tolerate. I love all the actors and creators involved, but this was a film only kids are going to enjoy.

There's a modest selection of bonus features included. You have your typical "making of" features that contain behind the scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and more. You see some tricks of using a live zebra on the set, the people behind the puppets, and more. There are also features on Hoffman, Portman, and Mills. The extras are wrapped up by a gag reel.

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