A children movie about a magical toy store, Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium appeared to already has the right ingredients to charms its viewer, very much like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After all, what more could children love as much as chocolate if not toys?
But that is exactly what they failed to do, imbueing enough wonder into the film.
The film actually has a promising start. Hoffman's Mr Magorium, being the over 200 years old magic character he is, was delightful and likable and naturally said the strangest thing. His toys store has been around for a long time and he was planning to pass it down to store's manager, Molly played by Natalie Portman. To faciliate this transfer, the accountant Henry was hired. But when the magical store itself learnt of his planned departure, it began to throw a temper tantrum. Colours on wall desaturated and toys started to misbehave. It is up to Mr Magorium's as the fatherly figure to the store to persuade the store to accept Molly as the new owner and to Molly to retain the magic in the store.
Charming story this. If only the writer knew where to focus the story on. Everything that seems so wonderful and creative about the movie appeared to dwindle as the movie progress. I would prefer to see Mr Magorium training Molly to take over the store and using the opportunity to showcase more magical things that happened within instead of Molly trying to convince him not to depart. The direction got a bit too serious, even when the writers tried to make it light. In the end. they tried too hard to write a meaningful story that they neglected the magic. Some adults seems lost to what story the movie is trying to tell, I doubt the children will get it.
Children's movie does not always need to tell a meaningful story. The writers need to let go of reality and let their imagination just take over. I read a children book off the shelf of a bookstore about a boy taking a bath and before long, he was joined by many wild animals one by one. I admitted I don't remember the details much there is at least an elephant and a whale in his bathtub before he is done. In the end, the book never suggested that it was all just his imagination and it was an absolute delight to read it.
Yes.. the playful cardboard dinosaur was funny and the hug-hungry sock monkey was totally adorable. That were exactly what the movie need, in extra large helping. All that is sadly wanting in this movie.
But not all is lost. There is one scene in the beginning of the film when Mr Magorium told Henry how very long ago, he fell in love with a pair of shoes and bought enough pairs to last him a lifetime. That is how he knew his time is up because he is now wearing the last pair. Of course that doesn't make sense but there is something so charming about it that it will probably be the one thing I will remember about the movie in years to come.
Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium could certainly do with a little more wonder.