Australian Council on Children and the Media

Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

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PG under 5 (Adult themes including death, disturbing images)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
  • a review of Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 December 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes, including death and some scary or disturbing scenes
Children over the age of 5 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) is the 243-year-old mysterious and eccentric owner of Mr. Magorium’s Wonderful Emporium, “the most fantastic, most magical, most wonderful, toy store in the world.” It is a store where toys come to life and magically pop out of books, and where rooms magically change their appearance depending on the need of the user. Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman) is the store manager, who spends much of her time doubting herself and dreaming of becoming a concert pianist. Also assisting Mr. Magorium and Molly is nine-year-old Eric, (Zach Mills) a lonely boy with unique talents, who finds it difficult to make friends his own age.

Mr. Magorium hires an accountant named Henry Weston (Jason Bateman) to determine the store’s worth. Mr. Magorium announces that he will soon be departing from this world as he is down to his last pair of shoes, and that Molly will inherit his store after he is gone. But Molly doubts both herself and her ability to create magic and rejects Magorium’s offer of the store. Molly is not the only one unhappy about Mr. Magorium’s departure, the store itself throws a temper tantrum with toys rebelling out of control and the shop’s bright red walls bubbling and turning grey as though infected with a disease.

When Mr. Magorium dies, Molly decides that she doesn’t have the sparkle or magic needed to run the store, and gets Henry to put the store up for sale. However, when a buyer is found and the time comes to sell, Henry objects.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death and life after death, magic

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium contains very occasional low level slapstick violence. Examples include:

  • One scene depicts a small boy stomping on Henry’s foot with Henry yelling with pain.
  • A giant ball chases a boy, the ball traps and presses the boy against a closed door with the boy being squashed into the ball; the boy appears unhurt.    
  •  Most of the slapstick-like violence occurs when the magical toy store learns that Magorium is dying and throws a temper tantrum. The store goes berserk, doors warp and bulge, while walls blister lose their colour and turn grey.  A lemur pops out of a magic book and then attaches itself to a boy’s head with the boy blindly running around the store. One girl runs around the store covered from head to foot in blue goo. A boy runs around the store in a panic crying for help, his arms are roped and tied behind his head. Children go screaming and running around the store in a blind panic. Toy shelves come crashing down, closets explode, and a toy dragon shoots flames of fire from its mouth. A woman opens a book about the sea, seawater explodes out of the book drenching the woman, and a squid pop out of the book and attack itself to the woman’s head.  A toy rocket launches itself and then crashes to the ground. Various items blow up, toy planes loose their ability to fly, balls lose their air and go flat. 
  • Henry repeatedly hits himself in the head with his briefcase.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • While the film portrays Magorium as an eccentric with a wild hair cut and overbite, younger children  may be scared or disturbed by Mr. Magorium’s appearance and manner, which they find a little creepy.
  • Younger children may find the images of the toy store’s walls bubbling, bulging and changing colour scary. The walls take on a life-like, somewhat evil appearance as though they are possessed, or have contracted a disease or infection.   
  • Mr. Magorium talks several times about dying, but put his dying in terms of him departing, or moving on rather than dying. Magorium states, “Light bulbs die. I will depart.” Magorium suggests that death is not the end, but the natural next step, the beginning of a new story.  
  • When Mr. Magorium dies, he sits in a chair and a star filled cosmos appears and begins to swirl around him. Mr. Magorium is not depicted actually dying with the scene cutting to an image of Magorium’s grave and tombstone with people grieving.
  • One scene depicts Molly emotionally upset with tears running down her face.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children over 5 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children over 8 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Images of popular brand name toys such as Mattel and Hot Wheels are displayed in abundance in Magorium’s toy store.

 

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Molly wears a low cut evening dress that exposes her cleavage and bare shoulders.

 

Use of substances

None of concern.

Coarse language

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium contains very occasional low level coarse language and some mild name-calling. Examples include:

  • crap
  • I’m a jerk
  • my lord
  • holy cow
  • what in God’s name
  • hog wash
  • drat
  • stupid
  • weird
  • mutant

In a nutshell

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is an entertaining, fun family film full of toys and magic. The film contained a number of adult themes and messages, and younger children may find sections of the film meaningless, or uninteresting.

The main messages from the film include:

  • the wonder of life and the finality, or inevitability of death and the manner in which we deal with the two
  • the need for friendships and risk taking when forming those friendships.
  • believing in oneself.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • self sacrifice.
  • acceptance of diversity/individuality 

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Without his mother’s permission, Eric invites a man (Henry) back to his bedroom to see his hat collection. While the situation in the film is completely innocent, Eric’s mother expresses concern and parents/carers could use the scene to discuss the possible dangerous situation that Eric placed himself in, and suggest alternatives that would place Eric in a safe environment.
  • The death of a friend.

 

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