Thursday, 9 April 2009

Movie Review: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

aka What I Should Be Doing
aka In Which I Am Yet Again a Hopeless Romantic

I just watched (as I'm sure you can guess) Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. It was awesome.

I was a little bit hesitant about watching a movie that was about a toy store in which the toys come to life at night, which is what the back of the case said it was. This is not true at all. As far as I could tell, the toys were far more active during the day.

I'm at a loss for writing this review. It was just very good. Anything I say will not live up to it. It felt sort of like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Big Fish. Dustin Hoffman takes on an entirely unexpected role for him. He's eccentric, goofy, childlike, and utterly bizarre. Natalie Portman plays a very interesting character, too; a little silly and childlike herself until she's suddenly burdened with what she interprets as a tragedy and a hopeless situation. That guy who plays in Arrested Development and Hancock is also in it; he is quite excellent, as always. And the kid's pretty good, too, even if his role is a bit on the predictable side.

So let's give a synopsis a shot. Mr. Magorium, played by Dustin Hoffman, owns a magical toy shop called Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. He plans on leaving, and wishes to leave the shop to Mahoney, his manager, played by Natalie Portman. Mahoney, however, feels like her life is in a rut: for years she's been struggling with the ending to her first symphony and most of her college friends have gone on and built careers. Taking over the Emporium was not what she had in mind. Meanwhile, the store's most loyal customer, Eric, is having difficulty making friends, and the new accountant, Henry, is having trouble balancing the books, which haven't once been accounted for the hundred-odd years the store's been open. Mahoney, Eric, and Henry need to somehow deal with a toy store pining over its owner's imminent departure, and, for that matter, deal with the issues in their own lives as well.

As with pretty much any kid's movie, there's a whole lot about believing in magic and believing in yourself. But it doesn't come off as particularly trite in this movie, maybe because of the quirky, almost indie feel of the film and the superb acting on the parts of all the characters. Overall, good show indeed.
Now, as to the aka's...

Mr. Magorium said, "Your life is an occasion. Rise to it."
Jon Wong quotes, "When's the last time you've done something crazy?"
Kay said, "You're such a romantic." Well, it's getting late in the evening, so I guess it applies now. (I recognise you didn't mean it poorly, Kay.)

And I wonder, what have I done in the last few days that I will remember forever? I suppose getting published for the first time is a pretty big deal. But that's not enough, I think. That's personal, but it's also career. The question is, when I look back on this time, what will I remember? Will I remember anything at all?
Is waking up each morning and being very prosaic, thinking that all my idealism and romanticism the night before was just the silliness that usually accompanies the setting sun, is thinking that such a good thing after all? Balance is nice, but the day is when stuff gets done. Why is the prosaic dominant during my active phase?
Have I risen to the occasion?

I have a paper to write, which is looming a bit. But nonetheless, I must think of something wonderful to do. Something of which Mr. Magorium would approve.


Jon Wong said...

Loooooooooooove Natalie Portman. And Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. I like the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Big Fish comparison. Imagine if Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Johnny Depp, and Ewan McGregor came together in some crazy film! It would be billed the greatest film ever based on cast alone.

Christian H said...

I would never be able to see it. I'd die of sheer excitement standing in line at the theatre.

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