Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) is the 243-year-old mysterious and eccentric owner of Mr Magorium’s Wonderful Emporium – ‘the most fantastic, most magical, most wonderful, toy store in the world’. It is a store where toys come to life and magically pop out of books, and where rooms magically change their appearance depending on the need of the user. Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman) is the store manager, who spends much of her time doubting herself and dreaming of becoming a concert pianist. Also assisting Mr Magorium and Molly is nine-year-old Eric (Zach Mills), a lonely boy with unique talents, who finds it difficult to make friends his own age.
Mr Magorium hires an accountant named Henry Weston (Jason Bateman) to determine the store’s worth. Mr Magorium announces that he will soon be departing from this world. This is because he is down to his last pair of shoes. Molly will inherit his store after he is gone. But Molly doubts both herself and her ability to create magic, so she rejects Magorium’s offer. Molly is not the only one unhappy about Mr Magorium’s departure. The store itself throws a temper tantrum. Toys rebel out of control, and the shop’s bright red walls bubble and turn grey as though infected with a disease.
When Mr Magorium dies, Molly decides that she doesn’t have the sparkle or magic needed to run the store. She gets Henry to put the store up for sale. But when a buyer is found and the time comes to sell, Henry objects.
Death and life after death; magic
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium contains very occasional low-level slapstick violence. For example:
- One scene depicts a small boy stomping on Henry’s foot with Henry yelling with pain.
- A giant ball chases a boy. The ball traps and presses the boy against a closed door. The boy is squashed into the ball but appears unhurt.
- Most of the slapstick-like violence occurs when the magical toy store learns that Magorium is dying and throws a temper tantrum. The store goes berserk – doors warp and bulge, while walls blister lose their colour and turn grey. A lemur pops out of a magic book and then attaches itself to a boy’s head. The boy blindly runs around the store. A girl runs around the store covered from head to foot in blue goo. A boy runs around the store in a panic crying for help, his arms roped and tied behind his head. Children go screaming and running around the store in a blind panic. Toy shelves come crashing down, closets explode, and a toy dragon shoots flames of fire from its mouth. A woman opens a book about the sea, and seawater explodes out of the book. The woman is drenched, and a squid from the book attaches itself to her head.
- Henry repeatedly hits himself in the head with his briefcase.
Content that may disturb children
Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters or physical transformations.
In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in thi sage group. For example:
- Although the film portrays Magorium as an eccentric with a wild hair cut and overbite, younger children could be scared or disturbed by Mr Magorium’s appearance and manner, which they might find a little creepy.
- Younger children could find the images of the toy store’s walls bubbling, bulging and changing colour scary. The walls take on a life-like, somewhat evil appearance, as though they are possessed, or have contracted a disease or infection.
- Mr Magorium talks several times about dying, although he refers to it as departing or moving on, rather than dying. Magorium states, ‘Light bulbs die. I will depart’. Magorium suggests that death is not the end, but the natural next step, the beginning of a new story.
- When Mr Magorium dies, he sits in a chair and a star-filled cosmos appears and begins to swirl around him. Mr Magorium is not depicted actually dying. Instead, the scene cuts to an image of Magorium’s grave and tombstone with people grieving.
- One scene depicts Molly emotionally upset with tears running down her face.
Children over five are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.
Images of popular brand name toys such as Mattel and Hot Wheels are displayed in abundance in Magorium’s toy store.
This movie contains infrequent very mild coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is an entertaining, fun family film full of toys and magic. The film contains several adult themes and messages. Younger children could find sections of the film meaningless or uninteresting.
The main messages from the film are the:
- wonder of life and the finality or inevitability of death and the way we deal with the two
- need for friendships and risk taking when forming those friendships
- importance of believing in yourself.
Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with your children include self-sacrifice and the acceptance of diversity or individuality.
This movie could also give you the opportunity to discuss with your children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences. For example, without his mother’s permission, Eric invites a man (Henry) back to his bedroom to see his hat collection. While the situation in the film is completely innocent, Eric’s mother expresses concern and you could discuss the possible dangerous situation that Eric placed himself in. You could suggest alternatives that would place Eric in a safe environment. You could also discuss how you might handle the death of a friend.