Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium
|Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium|
|Directed by||Zach Helm|
Richard N. Gladstein |
|Written by||Zach Helm|
|Narrated by||Zach Myles|
Dustin Hoffman |
Alexandre Desplat |
|Editing by||Sabrina Pilllsco|
20th Century Fox (USA)|
Icon Film Distribution (UK)
Metropolian Filmexport (France)
November 16, 2007 (US)|
December 28, 2007 (UK)
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||$69,474,661 worldwide|
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a 2007 fantasy comedy-drama film written and directed by Zach Helm. The film stars Dustin Hoffman as the owner of a magical toy store, and Natalie Portman as his store employee.
Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), called Mahoney throughout the movie, is an employee at "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium", a magical toy shop run by the eccentric 243 year old Mr. Edward Magorium (Dustin Hoffman). Besides Molly and Mr. Magorium, store bookbuilder Bellini (Ted Ludzik), a strongman, is also employed. Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills) is a boy who comes to the toy store and regularly interacts with the adults and volunteers at the store, acting at times like a part-time employee.
The toy shop is magical. The toys have a life of their own. An over-sized ledger, known as the Big Book, can magically materialize any toy on command, and a doorknob, when rotated, can change the interior of a magic room. Mr. Magorium states that he imbued the shop with the same youthful characteristics of the children who visit it. Because of its similarity to children, the shop is also prone to temper tantrums.
In response to Mahoney telling Mr. Magorium that she feels stuck, he gives her the Congreve Cube, a big block of wood, and tells her it will guide her to a new life and adventure if she has faith in it. She is unsure what to do with the cube at first. Mahoney wants to become a composer and concert pianist, because she was a musical child prodigy. She went to school for music, but has not been able to write any music since graduating. At home, she works on a concerto with little progress.
Mr. Magorium suddenly announces that he intends to "leave" and is giving the shop to Mahoney to provide her with the means to move forward and become "unstuck" in life. When Mahoney expresses her upset and doubts about her ability to run the store, the store throws a tantrum, causing all the toys and its inner workings to go haywire, ambushing customers of all ages. In preparation for his departure, Mr. Magorium hires an accountant, Henry Weston (Jason Bateman), to organize the shop's paperwork and determine the monetary value of the store he will leave as a legacy to Mahoney. Henry does not believe that the toy store is magical at all at first, arguing with Molly over its magical properties and debating the actuality of Magorium's records.
Mahoney finally realizes that Mr. Magorium is leaving not to retire but because he is going to die. Desperate to stop this, Mahoney rushes him to a mental hospital where after a little mischief, he is discharged the next day because there is "nothing physically wrong with him."
After leaving the hospital, Mr. Magorium asks Mahoney how she is doing with the Congreve Cube. She states there are a million things she could do with a block of wood but she doesn't have a clue how to unlock the cube's secret. Mr. Magorium then tells her that there are a million things one could do with a block of wood, but what if someone just believed in the cube? Mahoney does not understand but attempts to prevent Mr. Magorium's departure by showing him the joys of life, but he has lived a full life and it is time for his story to end. He uses the stage notes of Shakespeare's King Lear to make the point about the importance of having a full life, and the importance of death, noting that the last lines of one of the most important pieces of literature are simply "He dies." Mahoney, Eric and all the children have a funeral for him.
Believing herself to be unworthy and incapable of owning a magical store, Mahoney puts it up for sale with Henry's firm overseeing the sale. The store grieves and loses its magic. All the toys, walls, and even the furniture lose their color, becoming varying shades of gray and black. Eric tries to reason with Mahoney over her decision to sell the store when he sees her at a restaurant playing background music.
Henry meets Mahoney at the store to draw up the sale papers, where he sees the Congreve Cube and asks her about it. When Mahoney confesses her complete faith in the store and the Congreve Cube's magical ability, the block suddenly springs to life, and proceeds to fly around the store. After witnessing this, Henry faints with shock. When he later awakes and questions Mahoney about it, she tells him that it must have been a dream as she went home the previous night, leaving him to finalize the paperwork for the sale.
Henry is not deterred as he knows Mahoney made the cube fly and though she does not believe she can do magical and wonderful things, he believes in her. Henry realizes Mahoney is the Congreve Cube. The block of wood that can be anything she desires if she can somehow believe in herself. Henry's whole hearted belief in Mahoney ignites a tiny spark in her and for a second she believes. The store responds to her spark of belief and continues to respond as her confidence builds until the entire store magnificently transforms. The magic and color return as Mahoney's symphony comes into existence.
- Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Edward Magorium, a toy impresario, a wonder aficionado, and an avid shoe wearer. He is loved by all, and has lived for over two centuries. He lives in his own home hidden behind a magical closet with a knob that turns to change rooms and owns a pet zebra named Mortimer.
- Natalie Portman as Molly Mahoney, the Store Manager, and former child piano prodigy, who feels "stuck" in life and struggles with self-doubt.
- Jason Bateman as Henry Weston (aka "Mutant"), the straight-laced, rigid Accountant hired to get Mr. Magorium's paperwork and will in order. He does not believe in the shop's magic—until the end of the film.
- Zach Mills as Eric Applebaum, a 9 year old Hat Collector who has trouble making friends. He also narrates the beginning, the end, and introduces the chapters.
- Ted Ludzik as Bellini, the Bookbuilder who was born in the shop's basement. He also writes Mr. Magorium's biography. He looks like a circus strong-man with a big moustache that curls round at the end; he also has full sleeve tattoos on both arms.
Steve Whitmire performs Kermit the Frog who makes a cameo in the opening scene. The stuffed animals (including the Sock Monkey) that come to life in this movie are performed by Trish Leeper, Gord Robertson, and Bob Stutt.
Filming started in late March 2006 and continued to June 6, 2006 in Toronto.
According to an interview with Zach Helm on Regis and Kelly, the name of the shop’s proprietor was derived from Zach's cousin, New Jersey native Allen Magory. The phraseology "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" was commonly employed as a jest between Helm and Magory as kids, long before the writing of any screenplay.
Premiere and box office
The premiere of Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium, attended by Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman, also doubled as a fundraising event with tickets having been made available to the public. Funds raised at the event were donated to the Barnardo's children's charity and other UK-based charities. The film was released in the United States and Canada on November 16, 2007 and grossed $9.6 million in 3,164 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #5 at the box office. It went on to gross $32.1 million in the U.S. and a further $35.4 million in the rest of the world which gives the film a total of box office return of $67.5 million.
The film received negative to mixed reviews from critics. As of July 12, 2008 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 36% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 119 reviews, with the consensus among negative critics that "colorful visuals and talented players can't make up for a bland story." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 48 out of 100, based on 26 reviews. Peter Travers (of Rolling Stone) declared the film the year's Worst Family Film on his list of the Worst Movies of 2007. However, in recognition of the fact that it was "aimed directly at very young children", William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer observed its "unforced and exceedingly gentle humor, its imaginative but never-quite-excessive production design and its ingratiating and surprisingly detailed performances -- especially by Portman and Bateman -- gradually break down one's cynical defenses".
Despite the negative reception, the movie has won two awards: one is the Heartland Film Festival Truly Moving Pictures award and the Dove Foundation seal of approval. Dove also stated that the movie was "a delightful family film". Also, Shawn Edwards of Fox replied it was "the most magical movie of the year".
Writer-director Zach Helm later admitted his film was "a trainwreck", after the film was referenced on an episode of the AMC drama Breaking Bad.
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