Thursday, December 6, 2007


I've come to the conclusion in recent years that there's no one snobbier than film reviewers. They seem to have as an agenda converting audiences into cynics and naysayers.

Evidenced by the horrible reviews of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, and as the second big release written by Zach Helm (the other being Stranger than Fiction), solidified the screenwriter is his position on my internal List of People in Hollywood Whose Careers I Follow Faithfully on IMDB.

The movie stars the always-lovely Natalie Portman and the always-quirky Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Magorium, 200+ year old toystore owner and inventor extraordinaire. The story is about Magorium's willing demise: he's decided he's lived a long enough life, and is now turning the store over to his young, self-doubting assistant, Molly Mahoney(Portman). The movie deals with Mahoney's acceptance of her beloved employer's mortality, and her own decision to believe in the power she had over her own destiny.

I'm a huge fan of movies that operate on a level where any age group can enjoy it. I enjoyed this movie mainly because of the themes - and great performances from Hoffman, Portman, and Jason Bateman - an actor who is quickly becoming one of my favorites - as the "counting mutant," or accountant, that Magorium hires to put his books in order before he dies. Kids will love the magical store that recalls Wonka's Chocolate Factory in some ways, while adults can relate to the situation of coming to grips that someone you care about is no longer going to be with you. The movie handles this issue in a way that's both weighty enough for the elders, yet still not too heavy for kids. I think it was brilliant of Helm to put such grave (no pun intended; I really tried to think of a different word) themes into such a light-hearted and whimsical environment. I think this softens in some respects the gravity of the issue, while at the same time making it more prominent. How can death enter into such a playful setting?

While the movie's not, ultimately, as good as Stranger than Fiction, it's still a movie much worth seeing, and one that could prompt a lot of discussion with kids about the subject of loss and death.

To return to my comment about reviewers. I want to shake people who tear apart a fun-yet-substantive movie like this. I went on to see what reviewers were saying, and was surprised by the vitriol poured on what I thought was a high-quality film. These are the same people who shred Shyamalan for every movie he makes not being Sixth Sense. They don't seem to get it. They need to learn to watch a movie how it was intended to be watched, and enjoy it how it was intended to be enjoyed. Not every movie will or should be avant-garde or edgy.

One last note: According to IMDB, Zach Helm is working on another film due to come out in 2010 about a man who begins receiving postcards from God. I can't wait.


  1. I didn't even know that it was another Zach Helm film...I might just have to see it after all. We went last night to "The Mist" - I was excited because it was Frank Darabont doing Steven King (ala Shawshank & Green Mile) but I think I should have read the book first on this one, then I wouldn't have been so surprised and disappointed in the absolutely horrendous ending. Totally ruined the film for me. There's alot of films out or coming out that I want to see right now...Bella, No Country for Old Men, I am Legend, Be Kind Rewind, and Get Smart with Steve Carrell. Also there's a new movie coming out - I can't remember the name - but it has Natalie Portman AND Scarlett THAT is a must-see movie. :)

  2. I hear you. It seems the holiday movie crop this year is a better one than we've seen in awhile. I saw No Country last night, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. The ending, I'll just say, is ... interesting. I'll leave it at that. But it's Coen Bros. from start to finish, no doubt. Flawless.

    And one I didn't see you mention is Juno. That's another one that looks very good.

  3. I haven't seen many new movies, but i enjoyed 'no country' as well, it's no lebowski but it's pretty good. the only other film of note i've liked was lions for lambs.

  4. I hadn't heard of Juno until you mentioned it. so I watched the trailer, and it does look good. I thought Thank You for Smoking was pretty clever. I haven't heard of Lions for Lambs either...apparently I'm just out of the loop these days.