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Arts & Life

'Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium'

Imperfectly aged: Dustin Hoffman plays the centuries-old title character in the less than wondrous Magorium. Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

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Twentieth Century Fox

Imperfectly aged: Dustin Hoffman plays the centuries-old title character in the less than wondrous Magorium.

Twentieth Century Fox
  • Director: Zach Helm
  • Genre: Comedy/Family
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

Toys come to life but the story never does in this lumbering holiday "attraction." Zach Helm, who scripted Stranger Than Fiction, makes his directing debut with an enviable cast — Natalie Portman as a perkily insecure shop assistant, Jason Bateman as an unimaginative accountant, and Dustin Hoffman as the 243-year-old proprietor of the toy store that gives the film its title.

Hoffman, alas, tries to conjure a character from little more than a speech impediment and a flyaway wig (hey, it sorta worked for Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, right?), and the rest of the cast works with considerably less. The aim seems to be to enchant the 6-year-old in all of us, but whimsy has seldom seemed so strenuous.

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