It's sad to me that "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" didn't make the top 10 at the box office this holiday weekend.
What a shame because it's the sweetest and most special movie of the season...maybe even of the year. Maybe of the last few years.
It really is that good. It opened on the 16th of November and I have already seen it twice. And I plan on seeing it again before it leaves theaters. This is the movie I will insist getting in the most deluxe version I can when it finally hits DVD.
Dustin Hoffman gives us his most heartfelt performance since "Rain Man" as Mr. Magorium, the eccentric but lovable 243-year-old owner of the Wonder Emporium. This is the most unique toy store in the world because it runs on the magic of optimism, imagination, and faith.
Natalie Portman plays Molly, the insecure manager of the store who finds out that she is set to inherit the store from Magorium who is convinced it is his time to "leave" this world. But she second guesses herself and wonders if she has the magical touch needed to keep the tradition alive.
Zach Mills steals our hearts as the 9-year-old who just can't spend enough time down at the store. He is the kid who is a little different than the other kids because he has an unyielding hope for the world and humanity despite all the odds that the real world promptly delivers us. When told that it's impossible to jump up and get his cowboy hat that has blown up and gotten hooked about 7 feet off the ground, he promptly says "maybe I just need a running start"!
Think of how much we could all accomplish if we had the optimism of a child! Kids feel they can do these things because no one in the adult world had "gotten to them" and told them that something is impossible to do!
Even though I have never really been a fan of Jason Bateman, he does a nice job as the account--or "mutant" as everyone quickly calls him--who Magorium hires to get his paperwork in order before his departure. Unfortunately, the task is daunting because the store owner hasn't kept a close watch on his profits and losses over the last several centuries. It's fun to watch Bateman's character progression through the course of the movie.
This movie will pump a lump in your throat and make your soul sing all at the same time. It's the best movie on carpe diem (remember "seize the day" from "Dead Poet's Society") that I have seen in a long time.
There are so many sweet and poignant moments, including the one where Magorium tells Molly that her life is an occasion and that she should rise to it. Simple words that pack a big punch. How many of us make our life an occasion? Let alone RISE to it? Most of us sadly chose to merely exist instead of to LIVE.
I don't think any other actor working today could have pulled off the role of Magorium the way Dustin Hoffman does. There is a wonderful scene in which Molly lays out some bubble wrap at a local park to have Magorium do a little dance to celebrate his long and happy life. I saw that scene through the eyes of a child. What innocence! Remember when all we needed to be happy was a pile of discarded boxes and wrapping paper? Megorium dances to the song of his soul and it makes us all want to dance with him.
But unfortunately, most of us are as tightly wound as Bateman's straight faced accountant. Most of us are too self conscious to dance on a floor of bubble wrap in our own living rooms let alone in a crowded park. But wouldn't it be nice?
I think a lot of people are shying away from this movie because the previews might portray it as a just another "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" knock off. But it isn't. Far from it.
Willy Wonka was a narcissistic nutjob who loathed the children who made his candied treats a success.
Mr. Magorium is the man whose very existence was predicated on making other people happy. We should all be so lucky to know a person like that in real life.
The movie's tagline is "You will see it when you believe it"--so true. And perhaps one of the reasons why many critics have been lukewarm at best about it. You have to have imagination and hope for this movie to make its biggest impact on you. It doesn't have car chases or explosions or murder, mayhem, and naked people frolicking around.
I'm not expecting you to resist the sex appeal of Patrick Dempsey or the bloodshed of "Beowulf" at the movies.
Having said that, I am daring you to take a chance on a movie that will most certainly put a little extra bounce in your step and song in your spirit. "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" isn't so much a movie for kids as it is a movie for the kid in all of us.
The kid who is dying to burst out and dance on a pad of bubble wrap.