Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

This is an excruciating experience. Dustin Hoffman plays the lisping owner of a supposedly wondrous toy store that doesn’t have a single video game in it. What it does have are a bunch of dumb toys that come to life in not-so-exciting fashion, while film characters constantly inform us that everything is magical. Director Zach Helm directs the likes of Hoffman, Natalie Portman and Jason Bateman with a flat hand in a movie that never comes to life. Every time Hoffman speaks, it’s annoying, and Portman’s head-cashier character is a labor to watch—amazing, considering that it’s Natalie Portman we are looking at. Bateman is the only one in the cast who has a few shining moments, especially a few funny seconds wearing a jester’s hat. I also liked how a monkey sock puppet wanted to be his friend, but he didn’t notice. Otherwise, the picture drags on and on, believing that it is fun solely because it says it is. A dull, pale Willy Wonka wannabe.

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