Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Here is a magical film that seems to have everything in place to be a real delight, but they seem to have forgotten one element: the magic. I can’t imagine how they misplaced it, but they did. It is written and directed (first time) by Zach Helm, whose Stranger Than Fiction was wonderful. It stars Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, two actors who have always been good. And yet it just sits there like a colorful lump. It reminds me of another film, Toys, that aspired to magic and was important to its director and laid a big, colorful egg.
There is no edge to the movie, as in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It is sorely lacking in conflict. Mr. Magorium is about to die, and he’s fine with it. His assistant fears she’s not up to taking over. And then he dies, and she takes over, the end. Sorry, Zach, that’s not enough story. This is another movie like Speed Racer, where you really, really wish the writer had had one tenth the imagination of the real heroes of this flick, the art director, production designer and the set decorator. Let me hail them here: Brandt Gordon, Thérèse DePrez, and Clive Thomasson. Hats off to you folks, you did a fabulous job, almost good enough to make the movie worth watching … but not quite.