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Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (Widescreen Edition) by Zach Helm (director)
Review by Charles Mohapel
20th Century Fox DVD  ISBN/ITEM#: B00128VA76
Date: 30 March 2008 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB Entry / Movie Website / Show Official Info /

In my mind Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is an absolutely wonderful movie for children of all ages, even those who look to have left childhood many years ago. This movie kept me laughing the entire time I watched it, and the first time through I kept replaying certain scenes either to confirm what I thought I had just seen or to replay that scene because it was just so funny. My sides hurt for two days because I laughed so hard and so often. I heartily recommend this DVD.

[Editor's Note: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium was previously reviewed by Rogan Marshall in our December 2007 issue.]

Early in the movie we discover that Edward Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) has been inventing all sorts of wondrous toys since the 1770s. You read that correctly -- since the 1770s! His Wonder Emporium looks like an FAO Schwarz store as designed by Disney Imagineers during Walt Disney's lifetime (he passed away in 1966).

Needing to hire an accountant, or as he calls them "a counting mutant," he contacts an agency that sends over Henry Weston (Jason Bateman) who applies for the job and is hired on the spot as "the Mutant."

Weston is your stereotypical bean counter and doesn't understand that the Wonder Emporium is a truly magical store. The store is managed by Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), a 23-year-old child prodigy as a classical pianist who has never lived up to her musical potential. Always filled with excited children and their parents, the Emporium is like a home away from home for 9-year-old Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills), a child genius himself and much more at ease dealing with building toys than building relationships with children his own age.

We discover that Mr. Magorium has imbued the store with feelings like its clientele, the children, and now that he is taking his final leave after turning the store over to Mahoney, the store is throwing a major childish temper tantrum.

The rest of the story is yours to discover if you're interested in finding out what happens after Mr. Magorium passes on. I wouldn't want to spoil the conclusion for you.

Special Features:

Strangely Weird & Weirdly Strange

    1) "Supposedly the Mind of Zach Helm" is a brief featurette on writer-director Zach Helm.
    2) "The Sock Monkey": Filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the movie used the services of a group of very talented Toronto puppeteers.
    3) "Mortimer the Zebra": Mortimer is Mr. Magorium's house pet, sharing his private quarters, and from his independent attitude, Mortimer is more like a cat than a dog in disposition.
    4) "Lincoln Man": Have you ever seen a life-sized statue of Abraham Lincoln made entirely of Lincoln logs? Well, you will now!
To Meet Eric Applebaum, Start by Saying Hi
    The producers saw approximately 500 kids when casting the character of Eric Applebaum, but as soon as they met Zach Mills, they "knew" that he was the one to play Eric. We see how Zach is extremely interested in learning every thing he possibly can about the film-making process from every possible angle. At this point in time, it certainly appears to me as if 12-year-old Zach Mills wants to become an actor-director down the road. Frankly, he seems like a really intelligent and good-natured boy and I hope he goes on to bigger and better things.
The Magical Store
    The principal set used for Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium looks very big on screen and this is confirmed by the numbers quoted: 7,000 square feet (650.32 square meters) of space, 24-foot-high (7.32 meters) ceilings, and over 10,000 toys, many special ordered from toy shops and toy manufacturers all around the world.

    Watching the designing and set-building process chronicled on film was fascinating. You can see the love and joy these talented people put into their work.

    If you wonder why writer-director Zach Helm seems so knowledgeable about toys and toy stores, it's simple: He used to work in a toy store. He REALLY knows and loves obscure toys and it most definitely shows.

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