Review: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is Simple Fun

November 19, 2007

I took the twins to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium this weekend, after all it’s the only G-rated movie out this season.  It was a nice simple family-friendly movie.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonderful EmporiumThe store itself is the real star.  The kind of toy store we all wished for as kids, the emporium is alive with magic that delights children of all ages.  I think my favorite thing in the store was the Big Book.  You just asked the book for what you wanted and if the store had it, it would appear.  If only I could have one of those books to organize my house, life would be so much easier.  The magical door was pretty cool too.  Turn the dial to select which room you wanted and it would be there when you opened the door.  What a cool way to expand your house when space is an issue? 

But if the store is alive then it has feelings too.  And we see those feelings come out when the store loses its owner.

The emporium is owned by the eccentric Mr. Magorium, delightfully portrayed by Dustin Hoffman.  A self-proclaimed toy impresario, magic aficionado and avid shoe wearer, Magorium, at the ripe old age of 243, has lived a full life.  And now that he has worn through his last pair of his favorite shoes, Magorium has decided it’s time for him to go. 

He wants to leave the emporium to Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman).  Mahoney loves the emporium and has managed it for years embracing the magic that it holds.  But believing in magic is not Mahoney’s problem.  Mahoney lacks faith in herself.  Faith she needs to complete her first composition.  Once a child musical phenomenon, Mahoney hasn’t yet lived up to her potential.

But Magorium has plenty of faith in Mahoney to take over the store.  But first his must get the store’s paperwork in order so he hires Henry Weston (Jason Bateman), an accountant to settle his affairs.  As unconventional as they come, Mr. Magorium refers to Henry as mutant since his definition of accountant is a counting mutant.  Unbothered by this nickname, Henry is all business.  He has no time for pretend or anything else associated with the store except its paperwork.

And then there’s the hat collector.  Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills) is nine years old.  He has very few friends and spends all his spare time at the emporium.  But this kid is a believer, a true whiz with the toys and the only one who truly seems to “get” Mr. Magorium.

Now when Mahony and the emporium find out about Magorium’s plans, neither are willing to accept his decision gracefully.

I truly enjoyed the movie, but was not wowed by it.  And when the emporium goes gray, the twins lost interest quickly.   The story itself flows well at that point, but there just wasn’t much here to capture the little ones attention.

The story itself seems a little confused as to who it is really about — the enigmatic Magorium, the timid Mahoney, the non-believer Henry or the delightful Eric.  Personally, I was expecting more about Eric’s story since he seems to be Magorium’s true prodigy, even a younger version of Magorium himself. 

Overall, Mr. Magorium’s is a nice sweet simple tale.  Nothing spectacular, but a cute movie nonetheless.  If you go in with these expectations, you’ll be fine.

At the end one twin was applauding and was was ready to go so I’d say they gave it one thumb up and one thumb down.


Preview of 2007 Family-Friendly Holiday Season Movies

November 10, 2007

With the Writer’s Guild of America on strike and all our favorite television shows going dark, the place to be this holiday season for a little entertainment is the theater.   The holiday season on the big screen is fairing up pretty nicely as an option for family outings to include not only some holiday-themed movies, but some other fun family films.

Again, like this summer, I am surprised to only find one G-rated movie.  Even the chipmunks got a PG rating this year.  The list of family films this season includes only 1 1/2 animated films.  I counted Disney’s unique offering, Enchanted, as half since it’s half animation and half live action.

Without further delay, here’s a rundown by release date:

Bee Movie
Bee MovieIn this animated feature, Barry Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) decides he can’t be like his best friend Adam Flyman (Matthew Broderick) and settle for a typical life in the hive making honey.  But when he set out to discover the rest of the world, he had no idea what an adventure it would be.  Along the way, Barry makes a few new friends, including Mooseblood (Chris Rock), a mosquito headed to Alaska, and a human named Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger).  But with adventure comes mishap and Barry and Vanessa find themselves racing against time to saved the flowers.  For a full review, click here.

Rated PG for mild suggestion humor and a brief depiction of humor.  View Trailer at www.beemovie.com.  Release Date:  Currently in theaters. 

Fred Claus
Fred ClausEvery family has its black sheep.  In the Claus family, it’s Fred (Vince Vaughn), Nicholas’s (Paul Giamatti) older brother.  When Fred’s shady dealings finally land him in jail, Santa steps in to bail his brother out, offering him a job in his toy workshop.  Can this sheep change the color of is wool?  Or will Fred’s antics jeopardize not only his relationship with Nicholas, but the whole Christmas holiday? Kathy Bates stars as Mother Clause and Rachel Weisz is Wanda.

Rated PG for mild language and some rude humor.  View Trailer at fredclaus.warnerbros.com.  Release Date:  Currently in theaters.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Mr. Magorium’s Wonderful EmporiumWhat throws a worse tantrum than a toddler who has lost his favorite toy?  A toy store that has lost its favorite owner.  Mr. Magoriums’ Wonderl Emporium is a delightfully magic place or at least it was until its 245-year-old owner Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) leaves the store to his timid manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman).  Together with the help of the doubtful accountant Henry (Jason Bateman) and a nine-year-old (Zach Mills), Molly must find the magic to keep the store alive.  For a full review, click here.

Rated G.  View the trailer at www.magorium.com.  Release Date:  November 16

August Rush
August RushThis drama follows the young and musically talented August Rush (Freddie Highmore) on his search to find his parents — Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a Irish singer and guitarist, and Loyla Novacek (Keri Russell), a privileged cellist with an overprotective father (William Sadler).  Drawn together by their love of music, Louis and Loyla had shared one magical night together in New York 12 years ago, but due to an unfortunate turn of event the two were separated from each other and August.  Living on the street and under the protection of the Wizard (Robin Williams), August is determined to find his parents through his music.  Terrence Howard stars as social worker Richard Jeffries. 

Rated PG for thematic elements, mild violence and language.  View the trailer at augustrushmovie.warnerbros.com.  Release Date:  November 21.

Christmas in WonderlandChristmas in Wonderland
Patrick Swayze stars in the comedy as Wayne Saunders, a father who moves his three kids from to LA to Edmonton, where the kids think they’ll die of boredom.  But they are in for the adventure of a lifetime when they head to West Edmonton Mall for some Christmas shopping, but find a bag of counterfeit money instead.

Rated PG for rude humor.  View the trailer at christmasinwonderland.com.  Release date:  November 21

Enchanted
EnchantedWhat happens when a fairytale comes true — or in Enchanted‘s case, comes alive?  We find out when the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) pushes an animated Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) down a well and she winds up in modern day New York in living color.  Will the gritty streets of New York change Giselle’s romantic look on life?  Will Giselle trade her storybook prince, Edward (James Marsden), for a real life romance with Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a handsome lawyer?

Rated PG for scary images and mild innuendo.  View the trailer at enchantedmovie.com.  Release date:  November 21

The Golden Compass
The Golden CompassBased on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, this fantasy follows Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards), a rebellious orphan, on her quest through a parallel word full of shape-shifting creatures and witches to find her best friend, Roger (Ben Walker), who has been kidnapped by the government for experiments.  But with the coming war, Lyra might be destined to save more than her friend — her world and all the parallel worlds connected to it.  Daniel Craig stars as her explorer uncle, Lord Asriel, and Nicole Kidman is his colleague, Mrs. Coulter.

Not Yet Rated.  View the trailer a www.goldencompassmovie.com.  Release date:  December 7

The Perfect Holiday
The Perfect HolidayNarrated by Queen Latifah, this sweet little tale is about Emily (Khail Bryant), the youngest of three children, whose only Christmas wish is for her single mom, Nancy (Gabrielle Union), to be happy.  So she asks Santa for the one thing she overhears her mom wish for — a nice normal man.  Benjamin (Morris Chestnut), an aspiring songwriter working as the mall Santa, is more than happy to fulfill this Christmas wish.

Rated PG for brief language and some suggestive humor.  View the trailer at www.theperfectholidaymovie.com.  Release date:  December 12

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Alvin & the ChipmunksA live action/CGI version of the 1980s cartoon about how songwriter David Seville (Jason Lee) turns three chipmunks — Alvin, Simon and Theodore — into pop stars while the trio turns David’s house and life upside down.  Fun fact: the Chipmunks were named after Liberty Records executives — Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker, and Theodore Keep.

Rated PG for rude humor.  View the trailer at www.alvinandthechipmunksmovie.com.  Release date:  December 14

National Treasure:  Book of Secrets
National TreasureA highly anticipated sequel to the 2004 hit, Book of Secrets promises even more intrigue and action as Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) sets out to defend his family name when a missing page from John Wilkes Booth’s diary reappears and implicates Ben’s great-great-great grandfather in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Look for more mysteries and puzzles as Ben and his crew travel to Paris and London before returning to the states.  Jon Voight reprises his role as Ben’s father, Patrick.  Also returning is Diane Kruger as Abigail Chase, Ben’s love interest from the first movie.

Rated PG for some violence and action.  View the trailer at nationaltreasure.com.  Release date:  December 21

The Water Horse:  Legend of the Deep
Water HorseDiscover the magical beginning of one of Scotland’s most famous legends when a young boy discovers a very unique egg, one that takes him on an enchanted journey when it hatches into a water horse.  Walden Media, the company that brought you the Chronicles of Narnia, promises another fantastical tale.

Rated PG for action/peril, mild language and brief smoking.  View the trailer at thewaterhorse.com.  Release date:  December 25

Well I think I can find several good options to fill the lulls in my holiday shopping schedule.  Hope you find one or two you enjoy too.  See you in the concession lines!