Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium 

I think it's a bad sign when the title of a movie rhymes with itself. I don't have any basis for feeling this way, but I had misgivings when picking up this title. During the first few minutes of viewing, my fears were confirmed: it was a hokey kids movie.

But then it started getting better. And better.

Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) is one nutty store owner—kind of like a Willy Wonka with toys—with a big heart. As his retirement draws near, he hires a straight-laced accountant (Jason Bateman) to set his affairs in order and tries to pass the store to his understudy, Mahoney (Natalie Portman). Unfortunately, the pair lack Magorium's magic touch, so the enchanted store airs its annoyance by draining all the toys of their color and scaring away customers.

Writer/director Zach Helm, who also wrote the offbeat Will Ferrell vehicle Stranger Than Fiction, is proving to understand layered screenwriting exceedingly well. Of course, with the all-star cast he assembled for this, his directorial debut, he was afforded loads of support.

This is a movie entire families can enjoy together, especially kids with vivid imaginations and parents who are still young at heart. There's a fair amount of focus on death, thematically, but it isn't portrayed in a taboo fashion. Additionally, there are universal lessons on display like the power of friendship and the importance of believing in oneself. Let not the rhyming moniker fool you: Given a proper chance, this title's guaranteed to be an enduring family classic.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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