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MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM

Enter The Wonder Emporium
In the vividly fantastical world of "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium,” imagination rules and just about anything you can think might be fun can happen . . . . and does. In this enchantingly alive toy-store, balls bounce themselves, Slinkies® go far beyond slinking, schools of fish fly through the air, stuffed animals hug back and good homework is instantly morphed into grand rewards – and the customers have the wide-open minds to have a blast with it. But when two centuries of wonderment look like they're about to grind to a sudden halt, the store does something even more incredible. It brings a young woman who doesn't quite believe in herself and a man who claims he doesn't believe in magic one last chance to discover one of life's greatest gifts: the ability to be awestruck and surprised by possibility. 

The Wonder Emporium of Mr. Magorium, not surprisingly, was born in the mind of a talented young writer, and now first-time director, who previously worked in a toy store himself: Zach Helm, who recently came to the fore with his screenplay for the innovative, narrative-bending comedy "Stranger Than Fiction,” starring Will Ferrell and directed by Marc Forster. While studying acting at Chicago's DePaul University, Helm found himself spontaneously inspired by his part-time job in an especially fun-filled toy boutique, which put him in mind of the spellbinding powers of pure, imaginative play.

"The toy store I worked at was similar in its eclecticism to Magorium's Emporium but it was much, much smaller,” recalls Helm. "Then, on one particularly slow, rainy, afternoon when nobody was coming into the store, I just started writing in my journal. That's when I came up with the basic outline of a toy store owned by a 243-year-old man, a story that stayed in my notebook for a long, long time.” 

It was years later, if only a minute in Magorium time, when Helm was in Hollywood looking for an idea to spark his first screenplay, that he returned to the concept of the Wonder Emporium. "The idea always stood out to me,” Helm says. Now, as he started to write it in earnest, he found inspiration coming at him fast and furious, from all manner of unexpected and diverse sources – from the surrealism of René Magritte, to the madcap humor of the Marx Brothers, to the work of such reality-exploring playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter, to the wild, kinetic inventiveness of Rube Goldberg devices, all the way to the sheer joy and furry whimsy of The Muppets. 

"This movie is a cornucopia of all the things that I love and that I find exciting, thrilling and playful,” sums up Helm. Though never less than playful and light in its touch, it is also chock full of ideas about time, mortality, individuality and leaving something wonderful behind when you go. 

At the heart of it all, was Helm's dreamy vision of a toy store he calls "the most amazing, bizarre and incredible in all the world.” He goes on: "The mythology behind it was that Mr. Edward Magorium, a very unique and long-lived toy inventor, came to this country in the 19th century and built and developed this store into the place it is today. More recently, he found a loyal apprentice in Molly Mahoney, a young woman at the crossroads of adulthood, to whom he hopes he can bequeath the store because he has to depart. The only trouble is that Molly can't quite yet see what is phenomenal about herself. At the same time, Mr. Magorium has brought in an accountant to find out what the store is worth, only Henry's a man of numbers and rules and adult sensibilities and he doesn't understand what the store is all about. When everything starts to change, and the toys start to lose their magic, the question is: is it because Mr. Magorium is leaving, is it because Mahoney doesn't believe she can take over the store, or is it because Henry has arrived – and how can the store be brought back<

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