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Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00
Local opening date: 11/16/ 2007
Reviewed by Martha K. Baker
This delightful and insightful film is a great way to teach children about death. And that's a good thing, for in the story of Mr. Magorium is the story of stories, how the end of one is the beginning of another. For one to begin, another has to end although the link is still there. Mr. Magorium is 243 years old, and he's run a toy store for years, centuries really. It's a very magical place, where the turn of a dial determines what's behind a door.

He's thinking about leaving the store, not as in retiring, but leaving, as in going to heaven. And leaving, as in leaving the store to his faithful manager, Molly Mahoney. She was a piano prodigy, but now she's just unsure of herself.

He has trouble making friends.

Zach Mills is wonderful as the big-eared, big-brown-eyed, multi-hatted Eric. He is well matched with Jason Bateman as the accountant and Natalie Portman as Molly Mahoney, always describing arpeggios with her fingers. Dustin Hoffman, his hair in an upswept do, plays Edward Magorium with major majesty and mischief. The role is the Omega to his Alpha role of Ratso Rizzo.

The other stars of the movie are the technogeeks, who make things fly and light up and bounce and twirl. This is the department that makes the red walls turn moldy grey at the thought of losing Mr. Magorium, a good metaphor for grief.

Zach Helm, who wrote the screenplay for "Stranger Than Fiction" - wrote and directed Mr. Magorium. The story is not about Mr. Magorium's passing so much as his passing the torch. It's about finding your own light, and that's why it's such a good movie for teaching children about death. Sometimes that death is just letting go of the parts of yourself that keep the rest of you from blooming, and sometimes that death is about saying goodbye to friends.

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