Yesterday and today we watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Now, on Rotten Tomatoes it got a disappointing 36% with criticisms of Dustin Hoffman's acting, a weak story, and lacking any real magic. Personally, I think most of the critics missed most of the film. Comparably, it would be similar to criticize The Tortoise and the Hare as a simple plot lacking any magic with two dimensional characters and yet the story is classic with characters everyone knows and an important moral. My point: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a fable. I just think most critics have been so lost in Hollywood violence, sex, politics and realism they simply do not recognize a fable when they see one.
Personally I was pleasantly surprised by the film. I admit that at first, whenever Hoffman smiled, all I could think of was Captain Hook, but it wore off quickly. I loved Portman and Mills and thought Bateman did a good job. I loved the music, the colors and the special effects. Cecilia got a kick out of a cameo of Kermit the Frog who tries to deter fans while browsing the store. It is a simple story - not a bland one. Just because a story is simple and maybe even has been, in some way, done before does not make it bland. I really enjoyed the movie. Although I had some idea on how the movie would end, I did not see every move coming. I loved the play with words and the playful banter in the screenplay too. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable film. I recommend it - IF you are not so far gone from your childhood as to be unable to recognize a fable when you see one.
The movie has a good moral too - believe in yourself. Portman is a young woman of 23 who has always had people praise her potential but never anything she has really done. The next time someone needs some fun, why not roll out some bubble wrap and just dance on it? If someone is sick, why not spray their room with glow-in-the-dark stars? What would happen if more people simply shook the hands of hotdog cart owners and movie theater employees or restaurant waiters/waitresses and simply said, "It is an honor." And then ask them something you always wanted to know regarding what they do. Everyone's role is important and everyone can make what they do special through their belief in themselves and the choice to do that something well. As Hoffman tells Portman, "Your life is an occasion. Rise to it!" We all have potential. It is what we do with it that matters.
NOTE: One caution: there is a death in the film which might disturb some young viewers. It is not violent or gory (like most Hollywood films nowadays) but it is sad and some children will fully miss the loss of such a character.
No, I have not read the book....yet. This was commentary on the film and strictly the film.