MOVIE: Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium

All six of us (me, my wife, and our four children aged 10-17) saw this latest release from Walden Media recently, and we were all disappointed. I spent most of my time in the theater trying to figure out why a movie that seemed to have so much going for it could seem so empty. I think the reason is the folks at Walden media, or at least the ones responsible for this movie, don’t actually believe in God. Instead, they believe in believing. In fact, the publicity for the movie says “you’ve got to believe it to see it.” If you believe (in yourself, in others, in magic–it doesn’t seem to matter), apparently you get to see the animated toys, confetti, and glittery lights. The problem is, if that’s all there is, it isn’t nearly enough. Emblematic of the spiritual tone-deafness of this film are two incidents that seemed to trivialize Christianity (and Judaism for that matter). In one, Mr Magorium is asked about why his business records show that he is doing business with imaginary characters like the King of Planet Yahweh. Mr. Magorium replies, “Oh, he’s not imaginary. He was never a king, and Planet Yahweh doesn’t exist, but he’s real.” What exactly does that mean? “Yes, Virgina, there is a God,” but only in our hearts and minds, like Santa Claus? I found this use of God’s proper name offensive, and I can imagine that a lot of other people, especially including Orthodox Jews, feel the same way. In another telling scene, when a boy explains that Magorium is going to die by saying that he’s “going to heaven,” Magorium responds to the effect that he’s either going there, or the Happy Hunting Grounds, or Shangri-la, or “I may return as a bumblebee.” In other words, it doesn’t really matter. If it doesn’t matter whether we go to heaven or come back as bumblebees, I’d like to know what does.

Hi, Vidicarlo

That’s too bad the film is sending strong negative messages about spirituality to its targeted audience, young children, especially since this is the time of Advent and Hannukkah.

There is no doubt though that this film is the annual “Christmas” movie, and is the cash cow for Hollywood and the various toy manufacturers who stuffed a bunch of toys in this film to get kids to ask their folks to buy them.

Unfortunately, I can only see more films like this and The Golden Compass, as well as others that mock religion and Christianity, being produced in the future. There will be more TV programs, movies, and news stories that will belittle Christianity and Catholicism. It has become an industry now.

It is already bad, but it will get worse, and there will be on a monthly basis continuous stories (from films, newspapers, TV shows) that will challenge Christianity and its leadership.

It has to do something IMO with our economic system and the desire by people in power to change men and women into secular materialists who will find meaning in purchasing consumer goods.

It doesn’t have to be that way, and both capitalism and Christianity can co-exist side by side in harmony; but, unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people who control the means of production want even more $$$.

Thanks for warning us about the film.

There is no doubt though that this film is the annual “Christmas” movie, and is the cash cow for Hollywood and the various toy manufacturers who stuffed a bunch of toys in this film to get kids to ask their folks to buy them.

Maybe, but according to, Magorium moved down from number 12 to number 10 in receipts last weekend, and it’s only 3 weeks into its release. Unfortunately, I doubt that anyone will figure out that the reason it is so boring is that a fantasy world where there is no God is inherently boring and unsatisfying. Dust worship (which is apparently the “theology” of the Golden Compass) is just not very credible or very interesting, no matter how much cgi gimcrackery you surround it with. Because The Golden Compass suffers from the same defect, I will go out on a limb and predict that, after a reasonably strong start, it will not break any records.

Before Christ, the best of the pagan world was languishing in jaded boredom, for all its extravagant tales of couplings between humans and the gods who appeared to them as beasts, and of sea monsters, nymphs, fauns, satyrs, and other “magical” stuff, until the astounding truth that the universe was made by a loving God, lost in sin, and personally rescued by its creator in a mysterious and awesome act of sacrifice burst upon it. All the real adventure stories, all the real romances, and all the real dramas, are based on this truth–that heaven and earth are engaged in an epic struggle with eternal consequences, that heaven has already won, but that each person alive is still free to choose which side to join, and everything hangs on that choice. Once you reject that truth, what could possibly be very interesting?

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