Overall Impression — Not a bad movie, but not a good one either.


Who’s the main character? — Based on the idea that the main character is the one who changes the most from the start of the film to the end, I’d have to say Natalie Portman’s character, Molly Mahoney.

What’s she trying to accomplish? — Ah, there’s the problem.  She’s trying to find her “sparkle,” or keep Mr. Magorium from leaving.  Or save the store.  Or really believe in magic.  Or maybe something else, but I don’t think so.  The movie is a little unclear, which dampens the drive.

Who’s trying to stop  her? — From finding her sparkle?  No one, really.  Who’s trying to stop her from preventing Mr. Magorium leaving?  Well, Mr. Magorium.  Who’s trying to stop her from saving the store?  Herself, but it’s very weak.

What  happens if she fails? — The most wonderful, magical toy store on the planet will be lost forever, or turned into a BED, BATH, & BEYOND or something.   


Orphan — The filmmakers try to paint her as an orphan, however she’s not only surrounded by customers, but also by Mr. Magorium who loves her as well as an inexplicably present and adoring kid named Eric Applebaum, whose mother allows him to bring strange men into  his bedroom to play dress-up with, giving her son little more than a stink-eye for a warning.  In spite of the filmmakers wanting us to feel sorry for Molly, we don’t.

Wanderer — When the store starts acting up, she tries to figure out why.   That’s when she learns that Mr. Magorium is leaving and that he wants to give her the store.

Warrior — She fights to keep Mr. Magorium from leaving, which is an extension of trying to save the store.  

Martyr — She gives up nothing.  Sacrifices nothing.  It’s not like she’s fighting to keep the store for herself.  She just sort of embraces her inner sparkle.   


Molly’s clear lack of what she’s trying to accomplish hurts what tries (albeit, a little too hard) to be a magical movie.  Had Molly had one clear goal (“Save the store”) and had she really had to sacrifice something personal to do it, then we’d have a better story.

TRIVIA —  I met Dustin Hoffman once in Theatre Books in Manhattan.  It was right after he won the Oscar and I was in my teens.  I thanked him with a full minute speech for doing such great work.  He replied “Excuse me?”  It seems I was so nervous that when I spoke to him I was barely audible.  

Tags: , , ,


  1. Kenne November 24, 2007 at 5:24 pm #

    Try running the questions with the store as the character.

  2. Jeffrey Alan Schechter November 25, 2007 at 1:19 am #

    It’s an interesting idea, however I generally reject notions in storytelling that lead to objects as characters. Like making the Titanic the villain in TITANIC.

    Are you suggesting that the Emporium is the main character, or the “who’s trying to stop her?”

Leave a Reply