Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Trailer (Opens 11/16)

And we welcome another remake of Willy Wonka and the -- errr, I mean the “new” movie, Mr. Magorium's Magic Emporium -- to the family. We know kids love candy, and we also know they love toys, so this was the next logical step...right?

The question, unfortunately, is which toys? In the days when locomotives were still a novelty and Ford's Model T motor-coach was just starting to catch on (i.e., Hoffman's day), maybe toy trains and whimsical purple ladders were exciting for children (actually, still probably not). But let's examine a list of toys that kids DON'T play with today: 1) miniature ferris wheels, 2) zebras, 3) fish mobiles (?!?!), and 4) old men. Unfortunately, all of these are featured in the trailer, and as much fun as those kids appear to be having in the store for 30 seconds on camera, the fact remains – unless there is either an (a) X-Box 360, or (b) Nintendo Wii in that store, they'll be flicking boogers at each other in no time.

And yet, it isn't the complete dearth of 21st century toys that haunts this toy store. No, the whole STOP-THE-RECORD moment comes when this guy (the accountant) walks in:

Jason Bateman? The nice-guy-who-throws-out-the-occasional-wisecrack is your villain?! Really? Whatever. None of this stops Mags (not that Maggs, though it probably make it more interesting) from finding him to be an enemy of the store. And perhaps this general antagonism towards accountants and MBAs in general is one of the more frightening trends in recent movies, especially when their counterparts are eccentric, “magical” men. I mean, do you think that in Japan they're teaching their kids that “you don't need numbers, only a little magic” to operate a business in a technological society? ARE THEY?! Pretty soon we're going to be about ten steps behind, and our next generation is going to be looking to MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDERFUL BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE to help us catch up.

Natalie Portman goes on to lament (and question) the accountant being in the store, and even in the trailer we have hints of Mr. Magorium cooking the books (making up fake names). He responds by telling her he's resigning and giving her the company. Doesn't this sound familiar? Like another *cough ENRON cough* major company, whose executives were fiddling with the numbers and then managed to get out before the sh** hit the fan? Well...

SURPRISE! I already know the future of your stock!

Amazingly, tax evasion and insider trading isn't the scariest part of this movie. No, we will now acknowledge the giant pink elephant in the room: Dustin Hoffman's 70 year-old, eccentric, weird-talking toy-store owner of a character. There is just no way you can see this part at the end of the trailer, with the extremely odd Mr. Magorium whispering, “You'll find yourself somewhere you've never imagined” in his poor Sylvester lisp, without finding it creepy:

I mean, Natalie Portman's a good actress, but even SHE can't hold in the "I'm totally creeped out" reflex for the camera. LOOK at that smile! That's pure joy, right? Oh, Hollywood.

Just for fun, I'll leave you with one final image, the not-at-all creepy moving bear thing:

I think I prefer Oompa Loompas...

All toy movies will forever pale in comparison to the moment where Big and the boss guy bust out on the piano in F.A.O Swartz.

nuff said
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