This is what my Sunday afternoons have come to: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Oh dear.
Now to be fair, this movie had a few things going for it. First it was written by Zach Helm, the same chap who penned the inestimable Stranger than Fiction. It’s exudes some of that same sweet and gentle whimsy. It’s also got Natalie Portman. I could watch Natalie Portman watching paint dry. For hours. She is simply sublime.
The tale features a frustrated musician, a lonely boy-genius, a bean counter, a magical Einstein who has decided to “leave” and a dismayed store that’s throwing a temper tantrum, so the elements are all there. Sadly, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium was written by Helm before he won fame with Stranger than Fiction, (apparently he bought his own script back so he could make it himself) and it sort of shows. Both Portman and Jason Bateman as the Mutant Accountant are clear precursors to Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and they are given much, much less to work with. It’s a sweet children’s film, but I think even the kids may expect more than this.