Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
The heart in this film is undeniable, and it’s definitely not just for children. As the film’s motto goes: “You have to believe it to see it.” (It’s alone worth watching for a cameo appearance by Kermit the Frog, out shopping, dodging stares from the public).
Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) is a 243-year-old owner of a magical toy shop. Although he has been inventing toys since the mid-1770s, and is perfectly healthy, he has decided that the time has come for him to leave the world, so he bequeaths the shop to its manager, Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman).
With his imminent departure the emporium itself shows signs of sadness. “We must face tomorrow, whatever it may bring,” says Magorium, to the very soul of the shop, “with determination, joy and bravery”.
Mahoney lacks the necessary faith in herself that she can continue without its magical owner. “Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools,” says Mr. Magorium, and in a rather Zen gesture, gives her The Congreve Cube, a solid block of wood, which he assures her will bring her the answers she needs. “Your life is an occasion,” he reassures her, “Rise to it.”
As the nine-year-old narrator says, “All stories, even the ones we love, must eventually come to an end, and when they do, it’s only an opportunity for another story to begin.”
Pipe Organ Pizza
The film not only reminded me of the childhood half-belief that toys are really alive (but only move when we’re not looking), I also remembered a special place I used to go to as a child: Scooby Doo’s Pipe Organ Pizza, in Houston.
The organ itself controlled a whole wall of pipes, drums, and strange gadgets, behind glass. The organist would play requests written on little white pieces of paper. I always used to request Tie a Yellow Ribbon because I knew he knew that one. To me it was the closest thing to magic, and all with the accompaniment of most amazing pizza.
It closed down soon after I left America. The organ was apparently salvaged, refurbished and installed in someone’s house.