Dustin the turkey

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

EX­CUSE me. Where is the rest of this film? Mr Mago­rium’s Won­der Em­po­rium – the ti­tle alone could rot teeth – is mostly taken up with the vale­dic­tory ex­pe­ri­ences of a mag­i­cal toy ven­dor, born some two and a half cen­turies ago. Within min­utes of the film be­gin­ning, we are asked to feel sad that the old geezer, most of whose “en­chanted” toys have been prod­uct placed by Fisher Price, is about to shuf­fle off to the great rom­per room in the sky.

Hang on a mo­ment. We’ve just met the bloke. Even if he weren’t so brain-melt­ingly ir­ri­tat­ing, we would hardly be likely to shed tears at his pass­ing. As things stand, Dustin Hoff­man, all com­edy wig and lo­bot­omy lisp, makes such an ir­ri­tat­ing boob out of the fel­low that most chil­dren will hap­pily per­form jigs on his un­tended


grave when he fi­nally passes on.

There is, to be fair, enough vis­ual in­ven­tion in the pic­ture to sug­gest that di­rec­tor Zach Helm has a half-way de­cent fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment within him.

Natalie Port­man, more an­drog­y­nous than ever, ap­pears as Mr Mago­rium’s ea­ger as­sis­tant. Ja­son Bate­man plays the ac­coun­tant who, archetyp­i­cally up­tight at first, is even­tu­ally won over to ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity by a cheeky young em­ployee of the store (Zach Mills, charm­ing). The real star of the film is, how­ever, the shop it­self, which, fea­tur­ing gi­ant balls, mo­biles made of liv­ing fish and glid­ers that fly for­ever, is suf­fi­ciently well con­ceived to dis­tract from its flat dig­i­tal ar­chi­tec­ture.

Noth­ing, how­ever, will per­suade canny chil­dren that they are be­ing of­fered any­thing more than a per­func­tory knock-off of Willy Wonka and the Choco­late Fac­tory. In fact, only those naive enough to ap­pre­ci­ate the gift of a Z-Box 360 (North Korea’s finest) will leave the cin­ema sat­is­fied.

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