Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)

Rated: G
Length: 94 Minutes
Grade: AAAA=A
Budget: Unknown
Box Office: $32 million US, $27 million Int’l, $11 million DVD

Directed by: Zach Helm, who also wrote the movie and is most well-known for writing another outstanding movie, Stranger than Fiction.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Ted Ludzik, Zach Mills, and Jaspon Bateman.

At 243 years old, Mr. Magorium, an avid shoe wearer, has decided that it is time for him to give up being the owner of the world’s most interesting toy store and leave the earth. He invites an accountant to go over the books as he prepares to bequeath the none-too-happy store to whomever will run it lovingly enough.

Entertainment Value: A
Now, I’ll admit that this movie was much stronger in the beginning than in the end, but it was AWESOME in the beginning. I had one of those goofy, I-can’t-believe-this-movie-is-this-good smiles plastered on my face for at least the first 40 minutes of this adventure. If the end (which was still very good) had been just a bit better, I could have given this an A+.

Superficial Content: A
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality A, Violence A, Language A, Illegality A
Seriously. Find me a cleaner movie. Unless magic hinted at will bother you (and it’s really not even fair to call it magic, I think), the only thing you could possibly worry about here is one scene where the store throws a tantrum and toys act out of control. But it’s nothing that any child with a two-year-old sibling hasn’t seen many times before. This is G-3, perfectly fine for any child who’s old enough to be watching movies.

Significant Content: A
The world is a magical place if you’re willing to look for it. There are imaginative people and “just” people, who always want to say that everything magical is “just” something ordinary. Believing in yourself is sometimes the only difference between frustrated mediocrity and greatness. It’s very important to have friends. Grown-ups are smart about a lot of things, but they’re really dumb when it comes to retaining childhood enthusiasm and faith. Every great story has to end, but the end of any one story is always the beginning of another.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
You know how some movies pack so much into the background that you want to watch again and again to see if you can spot it all? This is one of those. The stuff you see the first time around will astonish you, and I’m convinced that there’s at least 5-6 viewings worth of novelty to be observed here. One of my favorite little elements here is that when the accountant, called a counting mutant by Hoffman, comes to visit, he is able to calmly stand in one place without any interest in the thousands of wonders all around him. What a visual testimony to how dead he is inside at that time!

Discussion Questions:
~If someone told you that a place like Mr. Magorium’s really existed, would you believe it until you found out that it wasn’t true, or would you doubt it until you found out that it was true?
~What does the wood block symbolize?
~In what ways is the finishing of a good book or story like losing a friend?
~Have you ever doubted yourself and had someone else believe in you? Who turned out to be right?
~Have you ever been scared to try to make a friend? What helped you get over it?
~What do you think it says about an adult who has a hard time playing with children? What if he finds it hard to play with other adults?
Overall Grade: A
If you want an excellent book to read alongside this movie, I would recommend the Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery.

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