Saturday, March 22, 2008
MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM is a charming film that did not deserve its quick death at the box office.
Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman, appropriating an inexplicable speech impediment) is over two hundred years old and owns the magical toy shop in an unnamed metropolis which I assume to be New York. I say "the" magical toy shop because, really, how many could there be? The toy shop is a wonderful creation, full of life and fun and impossible possibilities, the kind of place that adults think kids would love to hang out in (My experience as the father of two boys is that kids would much prefer to hang out in a big yard, armed with water guns. But then again, I don't live in New York City.). Its manager, Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman, who has either grown into a downright elfin woman or has an eating problem), has worked there for nearly her entire young life and is beginning to feel that it's time to move on. And then there's Eric, the nine-year-old who can't seem to make friends but can sculpt a beautiful Abraham Lincoln out of, you guessed it, Lincoln logs. They're a happy, self-made family, but then everything begins to change. Mr. Magorium feels that it's time for him to move on, but Molly doesn't feel ready to move up. And then Mutant the Accountant (Jason Bateman, who has been note-perfect in everything, lately) shows up to straighten out the books. But how do you straighten out the books of a magical shop?
OK, so there's your story, but MAGORIUM isn't so much about intricately plotted story as it is about sweetness, and fabulous art direction, costuming, and set design. It's about the way a very small child can feel when standing before a wall of huggable stuffed animals, and it's about choosing wonder and joy. It's a lovable picture, and I loved the heck out of it.
I watch a lot of kids' movies and I wade through a lot of dross. MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM is a charming delight and a welcome change. Even if you don't have kids, this one's worth a rental.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
THE GAME PLAN is your basic "kid teaches parent(s) how to be adult" movie. The Rock stars as the parent, Madison Pettis stars as the kid, and Rosalyn Sanchez stands around and looks pretty. Oh, and Kyra Sedgewick is in there. She plays the deus ex machina.
Johnson's charismatic and fun. All the charisma and fun in the world, however, can't salvage a script that gives us a little monster, rather than an adorable little girl, to root for. Madison Pettis's Peyton (Yes, it's a girl's name in this world.) is so obnoxious, so overbearing, so bratty that, rather than wish for her to find her own happily ever after, I wanted The Rock to give her a good spanking.
On the up side, the unnaturally beautiful Rosalyn Sanchez is very good at standing around and looking pretty, so there's that. But that's about all this movie has going for it. Even if you have a young girl who'd fit this film's target demographic, avoid THE GAME PLAN.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
HORTON HEARS A WHO! is a beautifully animated, well voiced, faithful retelling of the Dr. Seuss classic. I nearly fell asleep.
Don't get me wrong. My kids loved it. Many of the people in the theater applauded when the credits rolled. It's just that I've read that story so many times that it holds no mysteries for me.