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Movies: Toy story; Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium (U) Hoffman is a star of wonder in heartwarmer.

Byline: Joe Riley

HERE'S a Christmas message some would argue is more important than religion, class, geography or language.

If you don't buy your kids the toys they want - even if that means taking out a second mortgage or selling your soul on eBay - they will resent you for the rest of the year.

Thank goodness then for Mr Magorium( Dustin Hoffman ), the eponymous 243-year-old proprietor of the most amazing toyshop in the world. His small emporium, squeezed between two monolithic buildings, houses all manner of wondrous gadgets and thing um my bobs to fire the imagination.

Little tykes are encouraged to run amok as the products literally come to life.

Holding firm to the notion that childhood is a time of imagination and boundless possibilities, Mr Magorium has tried to impress the importance of self-belief and wonder on his manager, Molly Mahoney ( Natalie Portman ).

But now the time has come for eccentric Magorium to hand over the reins.

Unfortunately, Molly is crippled with self-doubt and fears that she will not be up to the task.

When an accountant called Henry ( Jason Bateman ) arrives to sift through the store's books, which are littered with unpaid bills, the future looks grim.

The tale unfolds in the form of a storybook narrated by a lonely nine-year-old boy called Eric ( Zach Mills ).

Hoffman is instantly loveable as the impresario who professes: "The only stroke I've ever had is one of genius."

Portman brings depth to her insecure young manager, with strong support from Mills as a desperately lonely boy who yearns for someone to be his friend.

Closing scenes fall a little flat, but production design comes up with a glorious, colour-saturated world where anything is possible.

RATING: 6/10 New tale of Hoffman

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HAIR-RAISING: Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman in Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 14, 2007
Words:304
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