All six of us (two adults and children ages 10-17) saw this latest release from Walden Media yesterday, 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 he mean? "Yes, Virginia, 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.