I am a huge fan of the 1992 film "Toys", which is similar, but I consider 'Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" a sad miscalculation. This movie was quite flat; I wasn't moved by any of the actors' performances. I didn't laugh or cry as intended by the director.
I couldn't sympathize with Natalie Portman's flat acting. Her beauty was limited by a short boyish haircut; she didn't have enough sparkle until the end; was that the point? I didn't understand her lack of belief in the magic if she had been working at the emporium since she was a little girl.
Dustin Hoffman's Mr. Magorium character felt overacted, as he was trying to make him as oddball as possible. His lispy manner of speech came off as fake and annoying. I couldn't believe he was 243 years old or that the store had run so many years without paying any taxes. Dustin's bubble-wrap tap dance and hospital visit scenes were cheesy; but I liked his journey to the stars.
I appreciated Jason Bateman's accountant character. He seemed like the only real person in the movie. It got annoying how the other characters constantly referred to him as a "mutant". I was hoping the plot would take him into a romantic relationship with the boy's mother or Natalie Portman's character, but it never went anywhere; romance was needed to balance the plot.
What was the message of this movie? Perhaps it could help kids deal with the sensitive issues surrounding death? Other scenes hinted at faith, belief, and never letting go of our inner child, but it never is made clear enough.
The Emporium setting existed in a vacuum; I never got the sense that it was in a bustling American city. Apart from the sock monkey, the toys seemed awkward to play with. What was the point of the creepy bookmaker in the basement who rarely appeared?
My biggest complaint with this movie was how abruptly it ended, as if they ran out of budget. The movie promised the future of the store under new ownership, but the filmmakers didn't give us any of that. The characters had unresolved conflicts. The makers bored us with sappy and depressing scenes, but when it came time for a happy ending and truly wonderful things to happen, they dumped it to credits. That's bad showmanship. Maybe they can redeem themselves with a director's re-cut which has a fulfilling wrapup.