Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) holds court over a vast steampunk-esque toy store. Children from all over the city swarm the aisles to partake in the magic. The magic has kept him going for a couple hundred years, but his time is up and he wants to pass the store on to store manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman) to take over. Molly isn’t down with that ’cause she’s not feeling the magic anymore, and wants to reclaim her dream of being a concert pianist. Magorium brings in a beancounter (Jason Bateman) to aid the transition, to woo Molly, and to befriend some jug-eared kid with Bud Cort eyes who hangs around being weird. There’s not much else to the narrative so the movie is instead fuelled by a forced preciousness, a precocious sugar crash that sets in too early and never recovers. While it’s not a complete failure, it never quite gels. It evokes an inadvertently melancholy air, of grownups desperately trying to evoke that vibe of childlike wonder by hiring kids to run around and pretend to be awestruck amid the vast collection of archaic toys and contemporary product placement.