Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Rated 3.0

An eccentric old “toy impresario” (Dustin Hoffman, channeling Ed Wynn by way of Willy Wonka) wants to turn his magical shop over to his young assistant (Natalie Portman); after all, he’s 243 years old now, and his last pair of shoes is wearing out. Writer-director Zach Helm turns on the coy whimsy at the very top of the credits (“Supposedly a Film by Zach Helm”) and it never lets up—becomes downright relentless, in fact; even the buses and hospital rooms are cute. Helm tends to blur the line between genuine imagination and mere ingenuity, and at times watching his movie is like being assailed by a tickle-monster who won’t let us catch our breath. Still, there’s a droll and engaging heart under all that CGI marzipan. Zach Mills plays the representative kid, Jason Bateman the stick-in-the-mud grown-up.