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In writer-director Zach Helm's whimsical 2007 film, MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM, veteran actor Dustin Hoffman plays the title character, a 243-year-old toy-store owner who is ready to pass his enchanted business on to his beloved assistant, Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman). However, when Molly, a former composer and pianist, has doubts about taking over the (literally) magical store, and an uptight accountant (Jason Bateman) appears to assess the establishment, the many inhabitants of the Wonder Emporium begin to rebel, resulting in a chaotic situation that can be fixed only with the help of a shy, lonely boy (Zach Mills).
A first-time director best known for his inventive STRANGER THAN FICTION screenplay, Helm ably--ahem--helms EMPORIUM, which clearly nods to the WONKA and TOY STORY movies without seeming derivative. Always one to dive gamely into a quirky role (see TOOTSIE, RAIN MAN, HOOK, etc.), Hoffman makes Magorium both silly and endearing, while Portman charms as his earnest protégé, and Bateman provides an enjoyable level of skepticism while enduring the nickname "The Mutant." Although the film's playful quality could veer toward excess, its thoughtful script and able actors allow it to stand out as a highly entertaining production.
Jason Bateman - American TV Actor
Aaron Zigman - Composer, JOHN Q (2002)
Roman Osin - Director of Photography, I AM DAVID (2004)
Dustin Hoffman - American actor
Zach Helm - Screenwriter, STRANGER THAN FICTION, (2006)
Natalie Portman - Actress/"Professional"
Alexandre Desplat - Composer
Richard N. Gladstein - Producer
Zach Mills - Actor, KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL MYSTERY
James Garavente - Producer, MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM
Theatrical Release: November 16, 2007
"[T]he film's dazzling production design is the highlight..." - 11/16/2007 USA Today, p.6E
"[Mr. Hoffman] is engaging....The concept is ingenious..." - 11/16/2007 New York Times, p.E12
3 stars out of 5 -- "There are hints of Tim Burton, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Steven Spielberg on show..." - 01/01/2008 Empire, p.66
"[With] a storming performance from Dustin Hoffman....Practically skipping with joie de vivre, Hoffman is intensely mannered yet utterly watchable." - 02/01/2008 Sight and Sound, p.74