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The Magic of Friendship in "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

Seafarer Mama/Karen is a joyfully home-schooling parent who holds a B.A. in Psychology and M.Ed. in Elementary Education.

The Magic of a Shared Award

My daughter and her friends shared the first place award at our town's gingerbread house contest last December.

My daughter and her friends shared the first place award at our town's gingerbread house contest last December.

Introduction: The Magic of Friendship

One of the most magical elements in the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is Friendship. It's the kind of friendship that's authentic. It's a spirit that sees beyond the surface to the enduring gifts and latent potential deep inside the person standing before you. The outside packaging of a person, especially their age, doesn't matter. The unique gift that the person has to give is the treasure that is seen, appreciated, accepted and loved.

Friendship Without Limits

The person who sees people most clearly is unpretentious Mr. Magorium. The atmosphere in his store is utter acceptance and playfulness. Everyone who walks in the door is welcomed and greeted warmly, and he loves to play games with the children who spend time there after school.

Relationships among the staff at the emporium are founded upon respect. Yet there is something more. Unlikely alliances are created through Mr. Magorium's uncanny instinct for bringing people together who have a lot to learn from each other. In the end, it's the web of love and friendship built at the emporium that coaxes his heir's magic to full expression in the world.

Silliness and Friendship Go Together Perfectly!

My daughter and a friend play French restaurant servers at dinnertime.

My daughter and a friend play French restaurant servers at dinnertime.

My daughter and a friend cavorting at Starbucks

My daughter and a friend cavorting at Starbucks

Mr. Magorium

Meet Mr. Edward Magorium. He is 243 years old and has owned his toy store for 113 years. He is eccentric and expresses freely his unique eccentricities. He wears suits with patterns that clash, makes turnip pudding, and has a pet zebra named Mortimer. He has lived so many years that he knows what he likes and what he values. He has met many influential historical people who have accomplished amazing things, yet he maintains a strong sense of his own unique power and magic. Mr. Magorium uses his energy and accumulated wisdom to build relationships with all of his customers. His presence and sweet demeanor is part of the enchantment of the store. At the end of his life, a large crowd attends his funeral because he's loved so much.

The Emporium

The emporium is an enchanted place and its magical attributes make it a character in the story. At the Emporium, Lego construction workers complete tasks, spaceships take off, wooden airplanes fly around close to the ceiling, and stuffies try to hug you. When he announced that the day after his accountant arrives would be his last day of life, the store began to have a tantrum. The walls turned black and developed pock marks, the magical book of inventory produced a lemur when the store manager asked for a lollipop, the spaceship malfunctioned, an octopus jumped out of a book and soaked a woman with water, finger paints lost their color and wooden airplanes fell to the floor. As Mr. Magorium stated in an early scene of the movie, "I have imbued my store with all of the imagination, attitude and emotion of a child." By the day of his funeral, the store and everything in it turned black and lifeless.

Magical Mr. Magorium

Mr. Magorium was the emporium's 243-year-old owner for 113 years.

Mr. Magorium was the emporium's 243-year-old owner for 113 years.

Molly Mahoney

Molly Mahoney is the Emporium's 23-year-old store manager. She feels stuck as a person because she no longer believes in her musicianship. She won awards for playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 when she was a child, but she is having trouble composing one of her own. Mr. Magorium encourages her to keep working at it until she completes her original composition. To help her out, Mr. Magorium gives Molly a giant block of wood called a "congreve cube" to help her finish her opus. It is a simple block of wood containing all of the power and creativity given to the natural world. His challenge for her is to believe in the cube's inherent potential, and by extension discover her own.

Heir to an Amazing Treasure

Molly spends her afternoons working as the manager at Mr. Magorium's toy store and is as engaging with the store's patrons as he is. He trusts her to manage sales, to handle The Big Book of inventory and to make the store tidy at the end of the day.

When Mr. Magorium decides he is ready to leave the world, he makes Molly Mahoney the new owner. Her first response is denial and she gives Mr. Magorium a day of fun as an attempt to persuade him to live longer. He thanks her for a beautiful last day of life and for helping him finish all of the final tasks he's wanted to accomplish by the end of his life. She is dismayed when Mr. Magorium refuses to change his mind, but gives him a warm "goodbye" hug.

Molly grieves when Mr. Magorium dies and feels despair over the dark state of the store. She doesn't have faith yet that she can bring it back to life, so she attempts to sell it. When she turns her back on the store, she also turns her back on herself and everyone else who has ever loved the store.

Molly Mahoney's Latent Magic

Molly Mahoney's fingers constantly move with the behind-the-scenes subconscious composing of her first concerto.

Molly Mahoney's fingers constantly move with the behind-the-scenes subconscious composing of her first concerto.

Eric Applebaum: Narrator

Eric is the young man who narrates the story of Mr. Magorium and his Wonder Emporium. He is very smart and has a humongous hat collection. He catches on to Mr. Magorium's decision to die before anyone else does. He is also the first to notice the store's reaction to Mr. Magorium's decision.

"You've Got a Friend in Me"

Randy Newman's song You've Got a Friend in Me would make an excellent theme song for Eric. He is a character that many children can relate to because he has trouble reaching out to other children in ways that invite them to be friends, yet when he does make a friend he is very loyal.

The only place Eric feels he belongs is at the emporium. He feels that Mr. Magorium and Molly Mahoney are his only friends. He later reaches out to the store's new accountant because he sees another person who needs and deserves friendship as much as he does. He also sees the similarities in temperament between himself and the accountant.

A Mighty Advocate

As a friend, Eric takes initiative to set things right in the face of chaos. He is one of the story's heroes. When Molly has Mr. Magorium checked into the hospital, Eric brings him pajamas, a toothbrush and things to entertain him. He also sticks glow-in-the-dark stars all over the walls of the hospital room.

When Molly rejects the accountant's gestures of friendship, Eric reminds her that he deserves appreciation for what he can give, even when his gestures of friendship are very different from theirs. He sees the accountant's personal value because that same appreciation has been extended to him by Molly and Mr. Magorium.

When Molly attempts to sell the store, Eric searches for her and finds her playing piano in a hotel lobby. He is unafraid to speak truth to her fear. He lets her know that selling the Emporium would be a very big mistake. Eric treasures the emporium as a safe place, and sacred in a way. He has faith that Mr. Magorium knew what he was doing when he left the store to Molly, so he pools together his money and turns to the accountant for help preventing Molly from selling the store, even offering to buy it himself.

Eric Applebaum has a big heart

Eric feels a sense of belonging at Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.

Eric feels a sense of belonging at Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.

Henry Weston: The Mutant

Henry Weston is an accountant sent by his agency to Mr. Magorium in order to determine the financial worth of the Emporium. He answers Mr. Magorium's quirky mathematical questions in a manner that is satisfactory to the store owner, so he is hired and invited to begin work immediately. Mr. Magorium notices his unique strengths and Henry is accepted into the inner circle of friendship created and nurtured by the wise store owner. He is important to the resolution of the problem regarding Molly's accepting the store as a gift from Mr. Magorium and rising to the opportunity he has given her. His is nicknamed "The Mutant" because Mr. Magorium playfully says that he thinks an accountant is somehow 'a cross between a counter and a mutant.'

The Mutant's Inherent Worth and Dignity

Henry's gifts are often taken for granted. Many people cannot relate to his love of math and the thorough research required to fill out appropriate forms for different situations. His energy is straight and subdued, as opposed to fun and care-free. He has lost touch with his inner child and spends all day in the office, seldom stepping out onto the floor unless he needs to request information from Mr. Magorium. Henry has developed a penchant for workaholism in response to his own difficulty with making lasting friendships. Yet Mr. Magorium senses that his presence in their lives has a purpose beyond just his job as an accountant and he trusts his intuition about The Mutant.

Warming Up to the Wonder

Toward the beginning of the movie, Molly chides The Mutant with being too practical and not seeing things beyond their outward appearance. He slowly warms up to the magic inherent in the store through watching the others' interactions with the place and with each other. He is invited to a meeting in Mr. Magorium's home to hear the intimate details of the situation he is working to resolve, beyond which a client would normally share with their accountant. Though he is new to the place, he is quickly accepted into the "inner circle" as a trusted friend to the other three.

Eric's reaching out in friendship to The Mutant is one of the moments in the movie that turns him into a believer. His witness to the caring between the other three, and extended to him by Eric, opens him up to a sense of magic in the world that he had never noticed once he became an adult. Though his time working at the store has come to a close, the place is still part of him.

A Friend in Need

Because Henry is with them all along, Eric turns to him for help when Molly threatens to turn her back on the magical store by selling it. The Mutant sees how much Eric cares for the store and for Molly, and agrees to give his best effort to persuading her to reconsider.

The Mutant and Molly Watch the Congreve Cube

The Mutant helps Molly tap her latent magic, which brings the store back to life.

The Mutant helps Molly tap her latent magic, which brings the store back to life.

Molly Mahoney Finds Her Magic

Molly's darkest hour comes when she needs to make a decision about whether she will accept a very large offer on the store from a real estate investor. Luckily, the Mutant is the person handling the sale of the property and he steps in to give her his new perspective. As an accountant, he believes she'd be a fool not to accept the offer. As a friend, he asks her to reconsider her decision to sell.

The Magic Returns

Molly's interaction with the real estate investor's son is the pivotal moment that begins to breathe new life into the store. Molly affirms that a toy that interests the child possesses some magic in how it works. Bright colors and sparkle return to the toy, even though the rest of the store remains dark.

The "Congreve Cube" has a new location now. Instead of living in Molly's home, it sits on a counter at the Emporium. When Henry visits, he notices when the cube begins to move across the counter before Molly does. When he directs her attention to it, she starts giving the cube commands, which it obeys. Seeing that the cube has come to life and starts to spin and fly, Molly begins to trust in her own personal power.

Though Molly apparently forgets the adventure with the cube, she is ready to open the store the next morning. She wakes Henry up and notices the magnet toy that has become colorful again. Henry notices that her eyes now sparkle. When her fingers move, the keys of the piano move, creating the notes of the concerto she's been working on. She now fully owns her own magic and moves her arms like a symphony conductor. In response to the magical energy flowing through her, the colors return to the toys and the store, the toys come back to life, the sock monkey finally hugs Henry, and the regular customers join the celebration!

Molly Re-Enchants the Emporium

Actor Trivia Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. In which movie did Dustin Hoffman make a cameo appearance?
    • The Shack
    • A Series of Unfortunate Events
    • Schindler's List
  2. Where does Natalie Portman live now?
    • Cambridge, MA
    • Los Angeles, CA
    • Paris, France
    • Israel
  3. For which movie did Zach Mills (Erik) win an award for the role he played?
    • Hollywoodland
    • Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
    • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
  4. At what age did Jason Bateman begin his acting career?
    • 20
    • 12
    • 8
    • 4

Answer Key

  1. A Series of Unfortunate Events
  2. Paris, France
  3. Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
  4. 12

Discussion Questions

Here are some questions that viewers can discuss their answers to after watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium together:

1. What type of person is Mr. Magorium?

2. What type of store is The Wonder Emporium?

3. Is the only value in things related to what can be observed with the 5 senses?

4. What makes something magical?

5. What qualities make someone a good friend? Does the age of the two people matter?

6. What type of people do you like to have as friends?

7. Are all humans magical, whether they believe it or not? If so, where does their magic come from and how can they believe in it more fully?

8. What do you believe about yourself? Has a friend ever helped you see more good in yourself than you saw before you met him/her/them?

9. To what extent does friendship play a role in Molly realizing the magic in herself?

10. Do you think we all have the potential to change the world through friendship?

© 2018 Karen A Szklany


Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on April 10, 2018:

So glad that my hub inspired you! Do watch the movie, especially surrounded by the magical people in your life. My daughter and I love to watch it together with her sock monkey between us.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 10, 2018:

You engulfed me with magic and awakened the child in me with this hub. I am not familiar with this movie but I will certainly look for it now. Stories of caring for another is good to watch in today's world.

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