The trailer makes Zach Helm’s fantasy look appealing, as if it were a companion to ‘Lemony Snicket’s…’ or ‘Nanny McPhee’. It turns out to be no more than a dull, whimsical, superficial film about a 243-year-old toy shop owner who is fast approaching the end of his life. We have no idea why Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman, with wig and lisp) is so old and about to die. What we do know is that his emporium is so magical that all the toys spring to life. Now, with old Mags about to pop off, the shop senses a sad future and throws a fit by turning everything grey.
Will Magorium’s successor, manager Natalie Portman, have the belief in the power of magic to restore the store’s powers? Will she ever fall in love with Jason Bateman’s accountant? And who is the kid with the silly hat? Let’s not be too Scrooge-like; there are pockets of charm, and some of the effects are quite good. But if you want your children to experience notions of mortality in the realms of fantasy, rent ‘Bridge to Terabithia’.