Went to see Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium last night at Not Bad President Elementary. Have you ever watched a movie in a grade-school gym full of small children? The room just vibrates with all that compressed energy. Fortunately, they turned the volume up to Overwhelm and just let the kids fidget and rotate, so everyone was happy.
The movie was pretty good, actually, though difficult to define. Like Secondhand Lions (a true classic and highly recommended) it was billed as a children's movie but is really aimed at the parents who bring them. Centered on a bizarrely magical toy store in New York, it stars Dustin Hoffman as the title character and Natalie Portman as his employee, Mahoney - a frustrated pianist. There's also a 9-year-old boy named Eric and an accountant named Henry whom most of the characters refer to chummily as Mutant. There's plenty of goofy stuff for the kids - which is why Tabitha and Lauren loved it - but mostly it's about loss and moving on, and finding what you believe in when all seems to have ended badly.
It was a good movie, though I can understand why it never went anywhere. It's difficult to define, for one thing. And like Willie Wonka, there's a barely suppressed air of darkness about the film that keeps it from being the fluff that it might have been - Dustin Hoffman seems to have watched Johnny Depp's revival of Wonka quite carefully. Or vice verse - I don't know which came first.
The popcorn was free, and that is always to the good. You can't have too much popcorn.