Apparently Zach Helm wrote this movie because he worked in a toy store and found the experience fascinating and magical. Ten minutes into this thing I was thinking that the bathroom stalls at the Theatre in the Fox backlot were more fascinating; and the fact I was secretly sipping a soda in a theatre with a no food or drink rule much more magical.
The film is about a kooky “magical” toy store (never explained) owned and operated by a 243 year old (never explained) Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman), who has decided to retire and die because he has run out of his favorite shoes. Magorium hires an accountant to get his affairs in order because he wants to bequeath the store to his manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), but the store is depressed and turns grey because she doesn’t believe that she is magical. The most believable and well played character is that of 9 year old Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills). I say this because it’s easier to believe in a kid that has a hard time making friends than it is in a man who got lucky enough not to be audited by the IRS for the last hundred years, or a girl who, if she just believed in herself, could make a box fly around the room.
This film has no story arc, unless the climax is supposed to be wallpaper turning moldy looking; or Natalie Portman’s character playing lounge music in some hotel bar instead of managing the toy store. The dialogue is not worth commenting on and don’t even get me started on the cinematography and editing. I really loved “Stranger than Fiction”, Zach Helm’s last screenplay; and there are similar themes here, magic and accounting being two. But not everyone can write and bring their vision to film, sometimes that process is best left to collaboration.
I know this is a kids movie, and I recommend not taking them to see it. Our society is unskilled and delusional enough thanks to Disney telling the last three generations that no matter who they are, if they wish upon a star their dreams can come true. This movie is nothing more than a Christmas preamble, a made for white kids story reinforcing innocent consumerism; like we have come to expect every November.