Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a good movie that has a lot of good messages with a few flaws. First, even for a children’s movie, it is a little bit too self aware and pretentious. When the narrator in “Winnie the Pooh” says “This is the story of” etc, it works just fine. When the narrator is a character in the movie, that can work as well. When the narrator is aware that they are the narrator and there is one, and makes side comments to the audience, they’d better be Ferris Bueler or they’re probably not going to pull it off.
Dustin Hoffman was well suited to this roll, and actually managed to play it sufficiently low key that I enjoyed the performance. I could easily see him going Jim Carrey/Grinch on this, but he didn’t. Natalie Portman was not at her best, and I like Natalie Portman. Elements of what she did were really good. Her dynamic with Mr. Magorium/Dustin went well. Her dynamic with Mutant (the accountant) went OK. The scenes with pretentious narrator kid…fell flat on their face. Pretentious narrator kid has some good scenes. He did the hat collection scene with Mutant very well. He also did a good job as ‘backbone in the background’ while Mr. Megorium was around. But the whole, “You have to save the store scene” with Natalie Portman was just nauseating. Basically, most of the dynamics in the movie worked well except those between Portman and PNK. It just…didn’t work. So much so that it made the entire movie suffer as a result of it.
The thing that the film did BEST was help a child understand death. Mr. Magorium had a very healthy attitude toward it, understanding that it was a natural part of the cycle of life. Even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t do what I thought he was going to do which was step off into neverneverland or something. Even though it didn’t show much, it quite clearly implied that he actually died, and was actually buried. The FX on the store were very good, though the whole theme was in that “Kids like a vomit of colors as much as possible” way.
On the whole, I liked this movie, despite its flaws and think that it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Once. Don’t see much rewatch value though.